How CEO's Can Drive Business Growth in a Disruptive World
This article was originally published in The CEO Magazine , December 21, 2017.
In today’s volatile market, where speed and performance are critical to business success, CEOs face an unprecedented number of challenges to accelerate growth and differentiate themselves from their competitors. Now more than ever before, leaders need to take the guesswork out of driving growth with better metrics to identify the previously hidden, yet vital factors influencing their organization’s ability to innovate and change in adaptive ways. In my new book, Grow Through Disruption, I introduce a tool called the OGI (Organizational Growth Indicator) that provides CEOs and Executives with metrics to quantify the hidden people and culture dynamics that influence their organization’s ability to grow and achieve sustained success. The following are some actionable insights for CEO’s explored in the book.
Validate Your Gut Feel
While many CEO’s have an intuitive, gut feel for what their companies need to sustain success, they don’t always know where to get started, or what levers to pull to accelerate growth within their organizations. In this age of intelligence, having the right information is critical. When it comes to accelerating growth, some of the most important information is sitting within your organization but is easily missed, given that it’s invisible, intangible, and previously hard to measure. The OGI generates crucial metrics capable of validating or challenging your gut feel about your organization’s strengths and weaknesses. These insights provide the clarity needed to direct organizational attention and resources where it’s needed most, supporting strategic leadership actions that are necessary to achieve organizational improvement.
Understand Your Organization’s Mindset
It is no surprise that many organizations in their quest to accelerate growth or to better adapt to our disruptive world express a desire to shift their organization’s culture so that it is more creative and innovative. In other words, they want to shift their organization’s mindset so that it is more entrepreneurial to help offset a dominantly hierarchical or bureaucratic structure. Grasping the implications of your organization’s current mindset is a critical first step in developing a more innovative culture. Importantly, an organization’s mindset, as codified in my work, is not just a reflection of how your organization thinks. It also captures the underlying emotional and motivational drivers that influence organizational attention and action. As many CEO’s know, driving organizational transformation and shifting culture is every bit emotional as it is conceptual to mobilize and motivate every member of the organization.
Align Your Top Team
I have identified a list of Inconvenient Truths related to organizational innovation and growth. Here is #9: “There is no innovation without leadership support.” It is imperative that CEO’s get their top team aligned, otherwise organizational growth and transformation efforts will quickly lose momentum and fade away into oblivion. With the right validated metrics, CEO’s can now quickly assess the extent to which their leadership team is aligned around the key factors that specifically influence their organization’s ability to grow. I have found that the top teams in many organizations are not nearly as aligned as the CEO had hoped or anticipated. Achieving a deeper appreciation pertaining to where senior executives differ in their thinking, attitudes and perceptions related to the organization’s growth capabilities and culture is an important early move in achieving the level of cohesion necessary to drive and sustain organizational transformation efforts.
See the Invisible with the Right Diagnostics
Diagnosing your organization’s growth capability is much like assessing your organization’s current state of health and vitality. Importantly, wellness is more than the absence of illness. Organizations can appear healthy on the surface but often the seeds of decline are in place long before the symptoms appear. When we go for our yearly check up we want our doctors to use the best non-invasive diagnostic tools to get an accurate reading of what’s happening on the inside of our bodies. Why not expect the same level of diagnostic rigor to assess your organization’s ability to thrive and survive? And this brings me to Inconvenient Truth # 12: “Engagement surveys are useful, but not substantive enough to fully grasp, describe, and enable how to improve organizational innovation and transformation.” CEO’s need state-of-the art diagnostic tools that assess the growth and adaptive capability of their organizations to better cope with 21st century challenges which are pressing, disruptive and imminent.
Maintain a Proactive Not a Reactive Stance
“Control the Controllables”
In this disruptive world, there are many things you cannot control, but you can control your mindset — how you think, feel, and act. As a CEO or Senior Executive, you have the ability to shape the extent to which your organization is ready and poised to confront its volatile environment head on, to seize opportunities as they arise. With better information about the internal workings of your organizational system — to better understand its mindset, something you can control — you can make wiser choices, be more proactive, and take more responsive action. Your organization can in fact grow through disruption.