Far too many businesses don’t realize they need to shake things up until they are already in decline. It may seem counter intuitive, but when your business has seen multiple years of double-digit growth and has hit record revenue and profits—that is the best time to begin thinking about the next big breakthrough.
Great growth requires an inquisitive leader and a vigilant effort. It is important to track the performance of the company and its industry to understand what is driving growth. While hopefully it is the result of stellar performance and superior leadership, don’t assume. That is when companies get caught off-guard and fall hard when the tide goes out. Regardless of whether growth numbers are good or bad, they may not be as good as they can be.
How does a leader determine that there is more opportunity and it’s time to get more out of the organization—attitudinally and operationally? You might be bumping up against a growth ceiling if:
1. The organization is growing at or under industry pace.
2. There is uncertainty about the most viable direction to take.
3. Forecasts are routinely being missed or forecasts are built on an assumption that growth will continue without a specific rationale to justify it.
4. There are too many projects on the radar.
5. Fewer than three-quarters of new initiatives are returning value.
6. Staff needs constant direction, clarification, and/or complain about being overwhelmed.
7. Margins are shrinking.
8. The customer mix is changing and you have more customers with declining order sizes than those increasing orders.
9. New competitors are coming on the scene and doing things differently.
10. The sales cycle is getting longer.
11. There is more pressure to make more decisions and make them more quickly.
These issues suggest that an organization lacks strategic clarity, is operating at a tactical level without a unifying direction, and is struggling to determine its future course. You don’t have to have all of these issues to signal a concern. A few of them at the same time speaks volumes about the need to rethink the current approach to business growth. As a leader of the organization you are uniquely suited to sound the alarm if necessary and communicate that the time has come to stop skinny-dipping, spinning wheels, or running in place and start getting traction by embracing market changes to make the organization better. Rather than deny the organization really needs to recalibrate, enthusiastically engage to develop a better, more sustainable approach to the marketplace, looking not to your competitors for insights, but to customers and consumers to see what they need and want but don’t know how to ask for.