There are many potential obstacles that companies encounter during the journey toward sustainable growth. Overcoming these obstacles and distractions is one of the key challenges to successfully developing and executing a Growth and Innovation Plan. Understanding these obstacles and the strategies to navigate around them is one of the characteristics of growth firms.
Below are some of the obstacles and distractions that I have encountered over the years. Think about whether you and your company have experienced any of these, and what your approach has been to deal with them.
Obstacles to Business Growth:
- Lack of commitment from top level management
- Other “burning platform” fire drills that take precedence over growth
- Insufficient resources for company teams to implement growth plans
- Internal resistance to changes needed to execute a growth strategy
- Lack of clear implementation strategy when outside consultants will do the meaningful work leaving a gap in follow-through when the consultants leave
- Half-baked strategies that are tangental to the company’s Core Values & Purpose
- Negative customer feedback on new products or services
- Loss of momentum when the going gets tough
There are probably many more obstacles to executing effective growth plans, but these are the main ones that I have encountered. Here are some of my suggestions about dealing with these obstacles and successfully staying on the tracks during a growth plan
Countermeasures to Overcome Obstacles:
Lack of Management Commitment: At the outset of any growth planning process, be very clear about the Vision for Growth that company leaders have and make sure that any growth plan is directly connected to achieving this vision. This is Clarity of Purpose, most growth strategies that fail do so because these is no clarity of purpose for the plan.
Other Fire Drills & Priorities: Let’s face, some crises and emerging priorities simply can’t be avoided. If there’s a problem with a major customer, sometimes it’s all hands on the deck to get it resolved. However, if a growth plan is going to be successful there needs to be an understanding that only solving major problems will be an excuse to delay the plan’s implementation. This clearly starts with Clarity of Purpose and the importance the growth plan holds to company leaders
Insufficient Resources: This is one of the major reasons that growth plans fail. Typically, a company is excited at the beginning of a project but as other priorities emerge in many cases resources are redirected and growth plans stall. The best remedy is to create an A3 Implementation Plan at the outset of the project with timelines, resources and metrics clearly identified. This plan is also useful for regular progress reviews that give the team charged with executing a plan the opportunity for feedback with senior management.
Internal Resistance: Creating a culture for innovation and growth is a critical step for any growth plan to be effective. Most growth plans require changes in one way or another to be successfully implemented. Change in general is troubling to many people, especially if they have not been part of developing the plan. The best solution then is to make sure all people who will be affected by a growth plan have the opportunity to provide their feedback during the planning process and before it is finalized. This is called the “Catch Ball” process.