Grow while remaining agile!
The growth process drives companies to professionalize their practices and hone their expertise, but also often leads to more rigidity and dispersion. How can you counter these drifts to preserve the ability to anticipate and adapt?
What if the difficulty in maintaining sustainable growth was primarily due to factors internal to companies? This hypothesis may seem surprising. Indeed, companies are regularly confronted with market uncertainties, such as fluctuations in demand, the arrival of new competitors, legislative changes, technological shifts, etc. All are objective reasons that explain observed growth difficulties. Most CEOs admit, however, that these external factors are more the catalysts of crises than their cause. For 85% of top executives surveyed by the authors of The Founder's Mentality, the main barriers to continuous profitable growth can be found in-house. The authors of Stall Points, for their part, examined fifty cases of corporate stagnation. Once again, the identified causes appear to be mainly internal, e.g., inability to initiate a strategic change that was yet necessary, slowdown in capacity to innovate, over-diversification, etc.
It would be easy to point the finger at CEOs and the quality of their management. But, in reality, a much more insidious phenomenon is at work: growth crises are often a direct consequence of growth itself! Indeed, growth necessarily translates into greater complexity. The product portfolio expands. The company’s markets become more diversified. To operate successfully on a larger scale, the company must recruit staff and structure itself. But each of these actions has a flipside. The common goal often becomes diluted. The gap between the head office and the field widens. The accumulation of processes leads to inertia and bureaucracy. These slow drifts end up preventing the company from reacting effectively to external disturbances.
To counter these drifts, three reflexes must be cultivated:
- Regularly renew the common goal to maintain collective engagement.
- Establish simplification routines to periodically clean up the organization’s way of functioning.
- Instill discipline that prevents strategic dispersion.
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