It's Not The Strongest That Survive...

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Our recent survey of business leaders has highlighted two key issues that are top of the agenda for 2014:

  1. Growth

  2. The ability to develop winning strategies

Often when talking to business leaders I hear lofty ambitions announced such as 20% growth, but frequently there is little of substance in terms of strategy to back it up. In fact there are times when growing by 20% is presented as the strategy for the year. The reality of course is that this is not a strategy at all - it is a strategic goal.

One reason for this lack of real strategy is that many businesses have battened down the hatches over the last 5 years and may have forgotten how to grow, and how to strategise. For the next generation of leaders coming through the business, the skills and experience are even more limited.

What then are some of the insights that we can see in businesses that achieve rapid and successful growth?

  1. Clear understanding of your competitive advantage and strategies that maximise it.

  2. Clarity of the vision throughout the business, combined with focus on the really key one or two goals.

  3. Empowering the people in the organisation to make decisions and respond to events.

  4. Avoiding just replicating what other businesses do - this is the route to being average.

Taken all together these skills are reflective of what Jim Collins described as the new the normal - chaos. Businesses need to be innovative, able to respond quickly to changes and demonstrate a regular and consistent ability to adapt in the face of rapid change. Those are capabilities not present in many organisations, so a key strategy for any leader must be the development of those skills in their people. This strategy has other benefits, not least of which is the attraction and retention of high quality individuals - another area where organisations face challenges.

Once the organisation can respond successfully to disruption in the marketplace, it is also then very well placed to be the cause of the disruption in its industry. That is the key to rapid and successful growth - but those skills cannot be embedded overnight. So the first strategy for 2014 must be to identify the biggest gap in your capabilities and develop a plan to start bridging it.

Post GFC it has never been truer that it is the businesses most adaptable to change that will excel. That might not be a bad competitive advantage in itself.

Will Abbott

Head of Business Advisory

Randall & Payne LLP



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