By David Kidder
September 26, 2021
There has never been a more profound moment for growth. We are experiencing a world impacted by constant fluctuation, which has resulted in a radical shift in what consumers value and need. The companies that intentionally discover, adapt, and even predict these changes, meeting customers’ new needs even as they evolve, are realizing and capturing a new competitive advantage: a permanent state of growth.
The ability for a business to unlock new growth is a reflection of its leadership and organizational mindset. In always-on growth companies, leaders empower the culture, talent, and systems that give the permission for the organization to relentlessly seek the truth about their customers’ needs and behaviors, and then boldly act on that truth in service of their company’s long term success. To inspire leaders to make an intrinsic shift to a growth mindset, I start by challenging them to seek the new truths of their market and their organization: Are they validating existing truths, or discovering the new truths of the market? Is the enterprise equipped to set down expired truths? And more profoundly, is leadership and talent empowered with the permission to even speak the truth?
When you’re looking for the truth, there’s nothing more powerful than the right questions. Here are some to reflect on:
How is our business positioned for the next disruption?
The leaders who see, accept, and plan for the inevitable impact of outside forces most often fare much better than those who are blinded by lack of capability, bias, or even choice. One of the greatest pieces of advice I ever received was from Elon Musk stating, “wishful thinking is the enemy.” No business has been able to survive without the understanding that they don’t have complete control over the forces that drive the future – in fact, more often, change comes from the outside-in, including our successes, which can be exclusively derived from outside forces. When business leaders give up the myth of control and assume constant disruption, they make it possible to harness the multitude of opportunities that outside forces present, and set their companies up for always-on growth.
Through what lenses are we looking for growth?
Asking your teams this question reveals crucial insight into how people in your organization think about growth. If your teams are looking for growth exclusively within their silos of existing customers and markets, using TAM (Total Addressable Market) models, they’re likely blind to opportunities that discover – or re-discover – and leverage their proprietary gifts in disruptive ways, and may miss the opportunity to capture new markets and solve new customer problems. By shifting the collective mindset to focus on the customers’ problems and needs – shifting from a TAM view, to TAP (Total Addressable Problem) – you expand your lenses from an inside-out view of the world, to an outside-in view. This is a powerful and necessary shift from focusing on products and services in search of a customer problem, to validating new needs and returning to discover the proprietary gifts of the organization to solve for those needs. This takes a business from limiting growth with existing behaviors and budgets to meaningfully expanding the potential of the company by exploring new customer behaviors and outcomes. Shifting from TAM to TAP allows businesses to discover the big problems that they can uniquely solve, and uncover the new markets that they can create by moving the organizational mindset and lenses from knowing to learning. By anchoring on the outside-in, where outside forces drive opportunity, and allocating investments in growth portfolios framed in Total Addressable Problems, you can find new sources of growth anywhere: both in and outside your core business.
What are our proprietary gifts?
Every leader has what they need inside of them to create sustainable growth. Like setting down a retired pair of glasses, and putting new lenses on, what’s required from every leader is the permission to see and think in a new way, both for themselves as a leader and as an organization. Every company has a set of proprietary gifts, an impossible-to-replicate set of assets that make it uniquely positioned to meet existing and emerging new needs and to create new markets. Your company may have an incredible supply chain or manufacturing capability, a unique technology, ecosystems of data, specialized talent, a globally integrated platform, and perhaps most powerfully: customer trust.
Often these gifts are right in front of your eyes, but because they’ve become part of the fabric of your organization and its existing beliefs and biases, their value – or how to potentially use them in a new way – is obfuscated.
When you identify these gifts with a different set of lenses and beliefs, match them with unmet needs, power them with proprietary gifts, enabled by new technologies or partners, capture and empower them, the possibilities for growth are endless.
From insight to action
When these new lenses produce new questions and new systems of knowing and validating to deliver new truths, the building blocks of growth will form a trusted system to empower your organization. Driven by leadership and operationalized habit, a new operating system for growth is born, allowing you to turn on growth like you turn on efficiency: in a systematic, repeatable, and permanent way.
The Growth Operating System (™) uses the tools and mindsets from entrepreneurship and venture capitalism to rewire your organization for growth. When adopted and scaled well, this new system allows you to discover new markets based on unmet needs that you can uniquely meet, invest in a portfolio of bets in a disciplined way, invalidate ideas based on commercial truth, and create a learning culture that balances psychological safety and high performance, all in service of what really matters – growing your business by solving real customer problems.
An organization is always a direct reflection of the leader’s mindset. As a leader, your mindset creates the boundaries for your business – defining what’s possible to achieve, and perhaps more importantly, what is believed to be true throughout the organization. Once you are anchored in a mindset for growth, grounded in truth, and tapped into your and your organization’s full impact and potential, you can unlock growth in a new way, permanently.
Are you ready to start asking new questions that lead to new truths?
David Kidder is Founder & CEO of Bionic (part of Accenture Interactive)