The Irony facing Growth

by Ralph Welborn, CEO of Imaginatik

Growth, for many, is getting tougher.

Technologies are rapidly advancing, new incumbents are attacking different parts of the business, and traditional competitors are building new capabilities. All the while, customer expectations and demands are continuously on the rise.

In short, no one is standing still: investments are being made, expenses are being cut, and organizations are identifying new ways to engage and please their customers. Everyone in the business has worked harder and harder to improve their products or services, and yet, growth remains relatively stagnant.

For many, growth remains tied to the average rate of their given industry as they duke it out for market share with competitors. For others, margins & profitability are continuously squeezed, often resulting in an accordion cycle of investment. And for others still, their competitive position or ranking shifts up and down (frequently down) as all of the changes listed above play out.

So herein lies the irony of growth

Companies have been extra-ordinarily effective at driving down costs, improving productivity, and figuring out how to take advantage of technologies such as cloud, social, and agile. However, they have not been nearly as effective in figuring out where and how to drive growth in radically new ways.

Secret Sauce — what’s different, and what you should know about growth?

We have had the privilege of working with major clients around the world on some extra-ordinarily complex growth challenges. All of these organizations had the same imperative: to do something different to break away from the pack. And apart from simply identifying new explosive growth opportunities, they also had to figure out the best methods to capture them.

Over the course of meeting with and working through the growth challenges of some of the largest clients in the world, we have identified 4 main ingredients that drive explosive growth, regardless of their industry:

1. Ask the new strategic question — where is value being created, and destroyed in the ecosystem in which you, and your customers, are engaged? Answering this question has profound implications on where you played before, and where you might need to play now.

2. Figure out how to engage your customers in the ecosystems in which they’re engaged
 Many organizations wrestle to identify the right balance of products and services, and what type of experience they should create for their customers. Collecting insight into where and how your customers spend their time and resources, and figuring out how to best engage them in those sets of activities forces the organization to shift its focus from improving the experience of existing products and services towards creating new ones.

3. Focus on the ‘new 20%’ (of capabilities.) 
 Explosive growth rests on building unique capabilities. For Amazon, it was their recommendation engine and logistics capabilities underlying Prime. For Uber, it was their radical simplicity of getting a car to you in lightening speed, based on orchestrating assets (cars) which they don’t own. For Tesla, it was opening up their Intellectual Property via an ecology of APIs around batteries to spread the risk and speed development around energy storage and distribution. Clarity on what your new 20% of capabilities is will be the “linchpin” between explosive business opportunity and technology execution.

4. Figure out how to shape your ecosystem of customers, partners and stakeholders.
 No company is an island. It has one of many different types of players including competitors, regulators, new entrants, customers, and so on. Decisions made and actions taken by each of these players create “ripple effects” across the business ecosystem. Figuring out where these ripple effects are — and getting ahead of them — is a key way to identify new sources of value.

No one wants to be surprised. Understanding the ecosystem helps to make you be the one to surprise others, competitively. That’s the crux of what’s different about our approach.

Learn More about how Imaginatik can help you identify and capture new sources of growth.