Growth? Innovation? In an environment as uncertain and turbulent as this?
What are you, nuts?
Given the times, lots of companies are taking the safe route these days and concentrating not on growth, but on mere survival.
Big mistake, says Rita McGrath.
“As a leader, you want to be thinking about the future at all times, and that does require some investment,” said McGrath, a professor at the Columbia Business School in New York and a thought leader on strategy in volatile and uncertain environments.
“An analogy would be to think about sending your children to college, which a lot of us are thinking about these days. I have absolutely no idea what those children are going to do once they're done with their degrees, but I know that if I don't make that investment in their education, there will be whole sets of opportunities that won't be open to them. When you stop thinking about growth, it's sort of the same as not investing in education, not investing in things that will give you a future.”
You've heard McGrath's name here before. (That's her at the right.) She spoke at the 2010 DigitalNow Conference about the barriers to business growth and how to remove them.
Getting past those barriers and focusing on growth once again has all kinds of benefits, she told me in a recent phone interview.
“Think of it a bit like momentum,” she said. “If you start a race from a dead stop, you're much less likely to get up to speed fast than someone who's already moving. With growth, you have a similar phenomenom. Those who start making those investments today, those who start removing some of the structural barriers (to growth) are going to be that much more in motion than companies that have been at a dead stop for the past few years.
“Plus, it's more fun. It's more fun for your people, it's more fun for yourself to be thinking of doing something new rather than the same old thing. Once you're focused on growth, people start to see opportunities more readily because they're actively thinking about it. People are less likely to cling to the past if they see that there are opportunities in the future that they could being going after.”
McGrath had plenty more to say about the challenges and opportunities that exist in these uncertain times. Listen to her comments in their entirety in this CPA Spotlight podcast.
How are you planning for growth these days? Let us know, then check out these related resources: