Empowering Always-On Growth
How to build growth as a muscle in your business
By: David Kidder, CEO + Co-founder at Bionic, part of Accenture Interactive
I once had a meeting with the CEO of a world-renowned sportswear company to talk about the Growth Operating System — Bionic’s pioneering model of enterprise growth that uses the mindsets and methodologies of entrepreneurship and venture capital. This CEO was already considered one of the most transformative business leaders in the world, with awards and magazine covers to prove it. On the way to the meeting, I even picked up a magazine with a cover story featuring his success. In the meeting, he listened to my schtick about how the Growth OS can accelerate and scale transformation in his organization, but he insisted that he didn’t have any problem creating and driving innovation — which made sense, as he was recognized as both dominant in his market and as a leader. In fact, he then shared that recently, he had personally taken responsibility for a new idea and created a team to drive a revolutionary product to market in just 90 days, as compared to the twelve-month proposal the team recommended, and it then exploded into a $100 million business nearly overnight.
I agreed that this was impressive — a perfect case of New to Big ($0 to $100mm in new revenue). As we always emphasize at Bionic, growth starts with leadership, and is most often a direct reflection of the interior life of the leader. Getting leadership to think and act in profoundly new ways is the critical first step in creating impactful growth. Since this CEO was already a proven champion of innovation, maybe they didn’t need the Growth OS. But of course, there’s more to growth transformation than leadership’s personal desire for their teams and organizations to get new products to market with greater success rates and velocity.
As I listened, my mind raced through how to unlock a new growth mindset in this renowned leader.
My response was not without risk — I pointed out that although this new product was wildly successful, it required the CEO’s intervention to bring innovation to fruition with veracity and speed, and thus, it did not equate to a culture of growth. In reality, while the company experienced single moments of new growth outcomes, it is likely an unrepeatable and unscalable capability for growth. My candid provocation shocked him at first, but there was a sudden moment of reflection and revelation — he agreed, “I get it now.” It’s not only the individual leaders, but also the growth systems and skills baked into the DNA of the company that matter. To build and scale a permanent growth capability, he needed to embed the mindsets and systems of growth throughout his organization — into its bones.
The Growth Operating System does just that. We guide companies to evolve from creating these single incidents of growth, to existing in a constant state that we call, “Always-On Growth.” We help them empower an innate growth state, based on a series of intentional habits, mindsets, systems, skills, and tools that fundamentally cement the way they think and operate. Over time, the Growth OS empowers a company to move from standalone innovation projects and initiatives that are stuck in incubators and silos, to systems that embed the opportunities and the permissions for growth into the company’s DNA, empowering the journey to a state of growth. This framework enables an evolution from projects, to systems, to a state of Always-On Growth.
Creating Always-On Growth drives a shift in the focus and obsessions of leaders and teams to anchor in the customer’s problems and needs. Organizations have to shift away from the Total Addressable Market (TAM) view of the world to the Total Addressable Problem (TAP) view. Doing so allows them to reframe and identify significant unmet customer problems and needs, design relevant and dominant solutions, and build business models to solve these new needs permanently. This approach takes organizations from a zero-sum view of the market — where the only way to win is for your competitor to lose — to a non-zero-sum view, which is the realization that there are no upper limits to your ability to create a new market and capture unbounded returns.
Driving the organizational evolution to an Always-On Growth state that enables unbounded returns requires many small, repeated steps to change corporate culture. As Albert Einstein famously stated, “The most powerful force in the Universe is compound interest.” Through the power of compounding and the unwavering investment in growth and capability, you can create boundless advantages.
The Growth Operating System creates an organizational framework for businesses and their leaders to instill this work into their DNA, with the goal of creating a permanent capability for growth. This entails:
- Creating internal and external Growth Boards, modeled on a venture capital investment framework, including the stages and measurement to govern funding criteria and decisions in scaling early-stage solutions, while aligning growth and capability for leadership.
- Uniting customer insights, data, and validated commercial truths in portfolios that are framed by customer problems and needs, in order to discover new growth opportunities and build a viable case for investment.
- Establishing a trusted systematic process that uses at-scale rapid experimentation to validate and de-risk growth opportunities.
- Empowering product, finance, marketing, and operations to drive in-market experimentation velocity for teams to accelerate product-market fit and investment-ready scale.
- Creating talent recruitment, development, and accountability strategies that support ongoing growth, with clear talent metrics for internal success.
There is no overnight success in growth, nor one dogmatic path, because every client’s journey and culture is different. This is a persistent focus in the pursuit of a permanent state of Always-On Growth. The results can be profound. In one example, we worked with a consumer packaged goods company to launch a product to solve an unmet customer need that they were the first in their market to identify. The product caught on, but very slowly — it took nearly 11 years for this product to reach $100 million in sales, but then it took only two years to reach $1 billion. This work is about the $0 to $100mm growth — the New to Big growth.
Today, the product is one of the company’s crown jewels — not just because it generates a significant revenue stream, but because it illustrates the company’s ability to launch and scale new businesses based on customer needs. This demonstrates their success from their consistent commitment to transformation using the mindsets and systems to build and create growth capability in driving to a state of Always-On Growth.