“Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth”, said John F Kennedy.
Leaders at work push their teams to grow fast; investors push the CEOs and the management team to think big and grow fast; leaders and coaches at home and personal lives nudge us to grow fast. Life and growth are synonymous – whether it is a plant, a baby, an adult, a business, a belief or a habit. I wonder if there is a generic recipe for growth…
First and foremost, I think, it is the urge, the belief and the drive. Sure enough, one might discover the urge at a young age while someone might get it in the old age! One might stumble upon the idea of growth at a certain turning point in the journey of life! In any case, growth can happen only when the subject is ready and itching to grow. Several times in life, one notices people responding to the same situation differently. That defines who is ready and who is not. Things get a bit complicated when it is a group or a team or an organization because it is the collective energy and drive that matters rather than that of specific individuals. Even the leader of the collective cannot determine the future of the team just because she or he is committed to grow. It is the collective energy that matters – if they want to stay happy as a conforming entity, no force in the world can set them up on the highway of growth. In our recent times, we have seen situations where the net worth of a company withers away throwing the management team into a tizzy. Conformist attitude does not help; it is the culture of the collective which matters. They need to be resilient and creative to think of ways of growing fast. So, it’s the approach to growth and the culture to deal with the context that matters.
Secondly, the fundamentals always work : one needs to focus on customers, grow the wallet share, discover new markets either in terms of geography or new customer segments, add new product lines, optimize costs and study trends in the market place. These are time-tested principles and would always hold good. There are several examples : McDonalds introducing breakfast is addition of new products and optimizing costs; outsourcing non-core activities like accounting, customer support, help-desk, secretarial, administration, logistics etc is optimizing cost; online travel portals bundling hotels and cabs is growing wallet share of existing customers and so on.
Last but not the least, an idea works when the time is right. We have seen numerous dotcoms fail a decade and half ago. However, now it is the time of e-commerce and m-commerce. Without getting into too much of details, one can safely say that the time of ecom has come and hence, the ecosystem has been responding well, right from the investors, the talent, the suppliers and the customers. One must look for the trends and the conditions in the environment to check if the idea of growth will land well. If not, one can still pusue the idea provided one has the staying power.
The master arrives when the pupil is ready. That is the first principle! And then what matters are the operational mechanics of market, products, competition, pricing, distribution and promotion. And finally, it is the timing!