An Agile Approach to Compounding Wins: Your Ticket to Rapid Growth
By J Schneider, VP, Strategy
We don’t have to tell you that competition among manufacturing companies is fierce. Whether you’re an independent manufacturer or owned by a private equity firm, you already know that it’s not safe to rest on your laurels in today’s aggressive landscape. If you want to stay ahead of the competitive curve (and meet the exacting expectations of owners), your firm will need to be proactive in seeking out business growth strategies. Time to market, as well as your ability to produce products that customers value, is key to your ability to do that.
The thing is, improving your time to market isn’t just about speeding up what you already do. Of course, you will want to shorten your development, sales, and commercialization cycles. But the way to get there is by making incremental improvements across your organization, then compounding those smaller wins in an agile way in order to rapidly scale, add value, and ultimately move more quickly. This approach is valuable and effective for any manufacturing company. But for PE-backed firms with especially time-pressured growth trajectories, it’s a mandate.
The Costly Missteps You Need to Avoid
Before digging into our recommended approach, you need to clear any stumbling blocks that may be lying in your path. When it comes to growing your market share, these common missteps can take all the wind out of your company’s sails:
- A lack of understanding of the market. In order to scale your business quickly, you need to understand the finer nuances of your particular market and what it will bear. For example, if your goal is to raise the price of your product, and you don’t approach that goal with sensitivity, you risk losing business rather than growing it. All tactical decisions around growth and time to market must be made through the lens of a deep understanding of your market.
- A lack of understanding of your customers and what drives their purchase decisions. Related to an understanding of the market is a strong grasp of your customers and what motivates them. You can improve your time to market all you want, but if you aren’t making products that meet your customer’s needs and desires, your efforts will have been wasted.
- Getting caught up in infighting and internal politics. Improving your time to market means making meaningful organizational changes. And organizations in flux are breeding grounds for internal politics and infighting as members of the team seek to regain balance and, in some cases, defend their traditional territory. Infighting, politicking, and the naysaying that they tend to produce, are some of the biggest roadblocks to organizational growth. It’s all about change management, having a plan to prepare and support your team in transition. Remember: having a unified executive team is half the battle.
- A lack of internal alignment. Even organizations that are mostly free of internal politics can suffer from a lack of alignment. Take note: consensus, while an important first step, isn’t the same thing as alignment. Consensus is compromise — or the lowest common denominator of what everyone will accept. Alignment, on the other hand, means everyone in the organization, from the C-suite to the most junior staffer, is driving their resources and efforts towards the same functional goals in a unified way. Company-wide alignment starts at the top of your organizational chart and works its way down.
- A lack of agility in response to shifting market conditions. If your goals for growth are too big and time-consuming, their usefulness may expire before you’ve achieved them. Compounding small wins, on the other hand, gives your firm a more agile stance, allowing your team to adjust priorities along with market conditions as needed.
Business Growth Strategies: Improve Your Time to Market with Compounded Wins
- Look across your entire organization to find areas of improvement. Improving your time to market isn’t just a problem for your product team to figure out. You’ll ultimately yield the biggest benefits if you look across all functional areas of your organization and identify ways you can improve your operational processes.
- Focus on compounding smaller wins. Rather than identifying one big goal (for example, raising prices) and putting all your eggs in that basket, plan to clearly define a number of smaller goals and delineate a clear process for achieving them. By building off of each small win, your firm will start to gain the momentum that comes with compounded wins, ultimately achieving bigger goals in the process.
- Achieve organization-wide alignment — not just consensus. You already know that consensus alone won’t cut it. Start the process of aligning your entire organization around your growth plan by ensuring that your executive team has a clear and well-defined vision. That aligned vision must then be communicated effectively to everyone else in the organization. Remember that change management plays a role in bringing disparate functional groups on board and squashing internal politics. Only by bringing your whole team in alignment can you make sure that all parts of your organization are working in concert to rapidly meet your goals.
- Take an agile approach to growth. Your executive team must set clear goals and define a clear path to achieving them. But your grip on that roadmap should be loose enough to allow for savvy shifts and adjustments as you go. As you begin to compound small wins, you should constantly reassess market conditions to make the next best step toward scaling your business.