Thursday, March 23, 2017

How do we get our middle managers back into a growth mindset?

Great summary and very consistent with the tenets of MDG.

Start with a portfolio view.  Every business has some activities that keep its core operations healthy.  Those should be job #1, as if the core isn’t working well nothing else will either.  You can’t launch a new business on a shaky foundation.  But, just working on the core, in a transient advantage context can really get you into trouble when an old advantage fades away.  So you need a few projects that have the potential to be a big part of your next core business.  My buddy Geoffrey Moore calls these H2 projects, but whatever you call them there need to be some in your portfolio.  Finally, you have what I call options, which are small investments you’re making today to buy  you the right to make more substantial investments in the future.   People need to understand what part of the portfolio they are responsible for driving.  Further, you need to make a critical distinction between low-uncertainty and high-uncertainty contexts.  The options are high-uncertainty situations and need to be managed with a different set of disciplines, emphasizing discovery and experimentation.

Make your growth goals clear. People are much better at seeing how they can make a transition to a new way of working if this is connected to a clear and measurable set of outcomes.  “Gain market share in Europe” is a lot less clear than “Add at least 2 new customers, increase the number of services our existing customers buy by 25% and increase the total number of inquiries we receive by 20%”.  People can see far more clearly what to do if they understand the levers you are trying to push.

Align incentives. You’re never going to drive a growth mindset with incentives oriented toward cost-cutting and hunkering down.

Get smarter.  It’s a funny thing – for almost every other practice in a company, there is recognition that you need to learn the right practices and develop the right capabilities to reliably accomplish a goal. Yet when it comes to growth –  particularly innovation-led organic growth – companies very often start from scratch as though it had never been done before.  

Start small, experiment, and learn from intelligent failures.  All too often, growth programs are announced with great fanfare and much enthusiasm but wither under the weight of later disappointments.  To get started, find a few opportunities that would allow your people to practice the new behaviors you are trying to encourage

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