Progress and growth are not just akin, they are essential for any business to thrive. The capacity to meet known challenges builds robustness, while growing an adaptive capacity to meet unseen and unmatched challenges, will breed resilience.
Growth isn’t just important for a company—it’s absolutely essential. Without continued growth, operations will stagnate. I know first hand, that being content with having reached a certain level of success, and the decision to remain at that level, will undoubtedly result in lowered standards of quality for products or services, decreased customer service, poor employee morale, and a host of other issues.
Some of the other reasons for business growth are:
- greater sustainability or resilience in the market
- lower costs – due to economies of scale
- greater market dominance
- greater buying and bargaining power
- ability to mitigate commercial risks – eg through diversification
- ability to reduce the threat of competition
- ability to survive market fluctuations and downturns
- ability to attract the best talent and staff
Growth may not be feasible or practical for all businesses but, in most cases, stagnating is likely to lead to missed opportunities. Planning for growth is, by any means, a great way to keep the business on its toes. Contentment is the tipping point toward decline.
Progress is about gradual betterment, about improving what is, and not simply repeating what was and doing more of it. It is not a leap ─ unless you’ve postponed making progress for way too long.
Look at the image below to learn how growth and progress are related.
Just a few more quotes on progress to add to this notion:
“The remains of the old must be decently laid away; the path of the new prepared. That is the difference between revolution and progress.” ~Henry Ford
“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” ~George Bernard Shaw
“Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.” ~Kofi Annan
“Progress is not in enhancing what is, but in advancing toward what will be.” ~Khalil Gibran
“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. Every step toward the goals requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” ~Martin Luther King
“Progress always involves risks. You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.” ~Frederick B. Wilcox
“Believe me; my journey has not been a simple journey of progress. There have been many ups and downs, and it is the choices that I made at each of those times that have helped shape what I have achieved.” ~Satya Nadella (CEO, Microsoft)
“You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas.” ~Shirley Chisholm
- “Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out.” ~James Bryant Conant
Instead of showing you The Venture Wheel™ in a layout that may confuse you, let’s first have a look at a more familiar way of presenting ROUNDMAP’s suggested pathway toward sustaining growth.
In the next figure, we’ve mapped our four maturing lifecycles, or Carousels, to the right, in a top-down formation. On the left, you’ll find the four mastery aspects, from vision to mission, reaching down to market (the potential). And all the way to the left, you’ll notice the PACE formula.
Mind the Loop
One aspect that may have drawn your attention while looking at the figure above is probably the loop in the middle, from execution to evolution. It is a most vital dynamic!
While each carousel (or lifecycle) matures over time, execution follows the path from vision to market. However, most of the learnings needed to become a better fit come from the bottom-up.
For instance, the choice between optimization, adaptation, innovation, or transformation, as part of the Growth Carousel, comes primarily from our reflections on market research and customer responses.
In fact, the mastery aspects, vision, strategy, purpose, and mission, are all evolutionary: they too will need to progress to allow ourselves to fit the four lifecycles to the future better. Thus, the progression of these mastery aspects is being reflected in the lifecycles.
For instance, strategists tend to apply learnings from one product lifecycle to the next. Or what seems to benefit one customer may also benefit the next. And so on.
There is never an end to learning. This is the preception behind lifelong learning.
Mastery & Maturity
As mentioned, the figure above shows you that The Venture Wheel™ consists of two types of elements: Mastery and Maturity. Mastery (left) requires business acumen to understand how a company makes money and achieves its goals and objectives. The Maturity elements are lifecycles: each follows a typical growth pattern, like the diffusion of innovations (Rogers, 1962) or S-curves.
In fact, each Carousel is an S-curve by itself. And they are interconnected, meaning that if, for instance, the customer lifecycle is maturing, the product lifecycle will too. In other words, if we are experiencing a decrease in customer retention, this may indicate that our products are no longer relevant to them.
Please be aware that progress, while reflecting on the learnings, has many hats, for instance, what we need to do to overcome a crisis, or to increase relevance (effectiveness), to reduce cost (excellence), raise productivity (efficiency), or to let go and do better things (antifragile).
Now, let’s have a look at the composition of the ROUNDMAP.
What you see is a layered roadmap, from the inside-out, where the first four layers consists of 4 stages, followed by an eight step customer lifecycle (outer rim).
process toward growth, from (1) Perspective Mastery (vision) to the (8) Value Mastery (progress). Each step is critical: without a vision (of the future), strategy becomes a zigzag pathway, causing the firm to chase one opportunity after the other. No one step is more critical than the other: they all matter equally.
If we take digital transformation as an example: research that led to the book ‘Leading Digital‘ suggests that to profit from digital, digital initiatives all need to be aligned and interconnected, leading to an integrated digital value chain, often reaching far beyond the enterprise walls. Without a digital vision and a governance framework, this would be impossible. Progress comes from applying the insights (data analytics) from customer behavior, customer expectations, competitive offerings, new rules, regulations, etc.
The Steering Wheel
The idea behind the steering wheel analogy is that there are only two ways to steer the business in the right direction: if we turn the wheel to the right (starboard in sailing terms), we are merely repeating the past cycle (doing the same thing over again, or revolving). If we turn the wheel to the left (port in sailing terms), we reflect on the past cycles to focus on what needs to be adjusted, changed, improved, optimized, or what have you (learning, growing, evolving).
Obviously, we can also increase the speed (‘gorilla marketing’), brake (‘stop the campaign’), or reverse (‘withdraw from a market segment’). However, this is not directly related to the pace of evolution but to the pace of execution.
PACE, as it happens, is the name of ROUNDMAP’s formula that measures the growth the business venture makes over time:
P = Projection – What do we want to achieve in X years? (transforming jobs)
A = Activation – Are we developing the right customers? (transforming potential)
C = Creation – Are we delivering on the promise? (transforming experiences)
E = Extension – Are we developing for the future? (transforming relationships)
With the PACE formula, we can plan the progress of the business venture and increase the level of sustained growth.