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The Anatomy of Growth Orienteering

Growth Orienteering is a holistic organisation-wide approach to ensuring you are covering all the bases required to deliver step change growth. It doesn’t diminish growth’s complexity; nor offer any silver bullets. Rather, Growth Orienteering allows a more structured conversation around the strategy and enablement of growth, which in turn leads to greater clarity on the focus areas needed to achieve it.



The Challenge with Growth

 

Most organisations want to grow but struggle to do so. Just the word “growth” embodies so much. Is growth about ‘bigger’? Or could it also embody ‘better’, ‘smarter’ or ‘more sustainable’? Even if taking a straightforward traditional view around revenue expansion, different executives will likely identify different ingredients that are required for growth. One might see a list that includes:

 

  • A clear growth strategy

  • A culture of innovation

  • The right talent

  • Execution capabilities

  • Core operational excellence

  • The right operating model

  • Sufficient capital to invest

  • Favourable industry context

  • Favourable macroeconomic context

  • Luck

 

If any one of the above (which is not intended to be an exhaustive list) is not working in favour of growth, it will likely derail the whole damn show. In other words, growth needs everything to work in concert. It is no wonder that growth feels so hard.  

 

Our frustration with the haphazard and largely inconsistent approaches employed by different organisations spurred us to develop a clearer way to think about and ultimately achieve growth. More often than not, growth gets derailed simply because an organisation fails to focus on one or some of the component requirements to achieve it. 


Enter Growth Orienteering.

 


The Growth Orienteering Approach


There are three steps to Growth Orienteering. 


  1. Assess the Landscape

  2. Chart the Course

  3. Walk the Path


Step 1: Assess the Landscape


This doesn’t have to be a long drawn out strategy process that takes months to consider competitive forces, trends, customer needs, etc. You’ve likely done that before and it didn’t create new opportunities that catapulted your organisation into a vastly different financial, customer or purpose driven stratosphere. Rather, mapping a wide spectrum of growth opportunities can literally be done in a few days if you bring the right inputs.


As per our earlier article that introduced both Growth Orienteering and the Growth Map that underpins it, most organisations have a number of blind spots when it comes to where and how they are going to achieve growth. The first step of Growth Orienteering is to identify your growth gap and align on what will contribute to the closing of that gap. Growth Orienteering doesn’t make choices between markets, industries, products, or customers. Rather, it considers a combination of where growth needs to come from and how it might be achieved, and as a byproduct also makes explicit the areas that will deliberately not be in focus. We call the intersection of these Where and How dimensions (e.g. Core-Build or New-Buy) Growth Terrains. 


Fig 1. Growth Map


Unsurprisingly, it can at times be difficult for organisations to see beyond the here and now of Core-Build. When this occurs, reconnecting to the external environment and expanding the thinking into new territories through intervention activities can open the aperture of possible futures for the organisation. For example, envisaging the future demise of the business (every business model eventually dies) spurs a future focussed discussion about terrains that would need to be explored to reach an ambitious goal. 


The sense of urgency that is generated by taking a future back perspective also lends itself well to identifying quick wins. Assessing the landscape in this way almost always generates a number of no regrets moves that immediately unblock existing growth efforts with little to no cost to the business. 



Step 2: Chart the Course


What might prevent an organisation from achieving their growth ambitions? Ask this to both executive teams and those at the forefront of delivery and you will likely receive a long list of obstacles that impede their ability to realise growth; a list which tends to look quite similar regardless of the industry or size of organisation. As such, we have identified a common set of growth enablers that need to be in place if an organisation is to deliver growth.


Fig 2. Growth Enablers

9 cards each with a description of growth enablers

Charting the Course is all about designing these enablers to overcome the obstacles that prevent growth, and making sure that these enablers are tailored to your organisation.


The tailoring is important. 


For example, let’s say that a big chunk of the growth gap needs to be filled by revenue from adjacent and new terrains. It may well be that the existing operating model that allocates funding through a particular governance approach is perfectly fine for core business growth, but grossly inadequate for more speculative growth experiments. For this organisation, Step 2 would focus on designing a parallel operating model to support adjacent and new innovation.


Of course, there will never be just one thing required to support step change growth. As we said at the start of this article, growth is hard to achieve. Operating model may or may not be an issue. Instead, perhaps current capability is focused on building things internally, but there is little expertise around M&A or corporate venturing, which in turn requires initiatives in the talent space. Maybe there are fundamental gaps in customer experience within the core business, or a lack of innovation pipeline processes, or a technology delivery weakness, or even no unifying purpose to rally stakeholders around the ‘why’ of growth. Charting the Course is all about an honest appraisal of the various obstacles that could derail your growth ambitions, and designing and prioritising a set of enablement initiatives that will support the execution of growth within your relevant terrains.



Step 3: Walk the Path


Step 3 is all about delivering the initiatives across the enablers in parallel with pursuing new growth options. Working on the enablers in isolation of value delivery sort of misses the point. Conversely, if the emphasis is simply on running after killer ideas, the absence of fit for purpose enablers will likely derail them. Growth requires you to fly the plane whilst building it.


In reality, there is also quite a bit of iteration between Charting the Course and Walking the Path. The design phase is definitely not set and forget. In the same way that we run experiments on revenue generating ideas to test for desirability, viability and feasibility, we need to take the same approach when it comes to enabling initiatives as part of Growth Orienteering. Maybe a highly sophisticated technology capability around continuous delivery is not being stymied by a lack of software tools but rather by personnel. Maybe leadership behaviours to enable growth are not best supported by a leadership development program but are more a function of metrics and incentives. Iteration is synonymous with growth. Not just for the pursuit of the actual opportunities that will become your revenue generation engines of the future, but also for the enablers that support them. 


Walking the Path is about 1) pursuing actual growth options and 2) overcoming growth obstacles by implementing changes to the prioritised growth enablers.



Bringing it together


  • Beyond incremental growth is hard to achieve and traditional strategy approaches have rarely delivered.

  • Growth Orienteering is a 3-step approach to ensuring all bases are covered. 

  • It starts with Step 1 - Assessing the Landscape, which combines an external environment scan with the exploration of possible futures (including a demise scenario) to inspire thinking of where and how you can close your growth gap via Growth Terrains.

  • This can be done in a few days, and also helps generate a set of quick wins.

  • Step 2 - Charting the Course, is about evaluating existing obstacles and designing a set of initiatives across a set of prioritised enablers that will unlock your growth aspirations. 

  • Step 3 - Walking the Path, is the execution in parallel of both actual growth opportunities and the enablement initiatives that support them.

  • There is regular iteration between Charting the Course and Walking the Path so that design and delivery inform each other. 



Where to from here?


Growth Orienteering is not rocket science and we repeat that it is not a silver bullet. It is however the only way we know to reliably deliver on beyond incremental growth ambitions. Radical growth is often falsely associated with creative brilliance. We see it as something that can be systematised over a period of time. 


This time dimension speaks to growth as a journey. It is not conducive to a typical three month project, but requires an explorer mindset over a multi year timeframe. And yet, the starting point of Assessing the Landscape takes only a few days.


Growth Orienteering is hard, exhilarating, and rewarding. Orienteering means at times you get lost, double back and forge new paths. But you don’t need to reach a finish line to reap rewards. Value is created as you walk the path. Value is created by embracing something new when the traditional approach has delivered status quo. Value is created by looking at things through a different lens and seeing the entire growth picture from a more holistic standpoint. 

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