Going for growth: Why using old models will never lead to new successes

Sep 24, 2019

The old model for growth is dead. Businesses need new models and new approaches if they are to continue to grow in today’s competitive world. This means the time has arrived to shake up an age-old industry and crown its successor.

Mediacom South Africa’s Imraan Rajab, Chief Operations Officer, highlights these industry shifts and expands on today’s building blocks for nominal growth.

Although it may be hard to pivot from our traditional reliance on scale and efficiency, a new model is needed. Growth – today and tomorrow – will be based on the people who surround the consumer experience, as well as human-centric workspaces. Learning to change is the first part of adapting, and in this case, adapting will require putting people first.

But why do businesses need to change? Because there are fewer and fewer new markets to enter, and you can only cut your way to efficiency so many times. At the same time, sectors are also being shaken up by more knowledgeable customers and disruptors who are looking to cash in on lazy incumbents, often bypassing well-established niches and intermediaries.

It’s about more than just growth

Businesses of today need to put people at the centre of everything they do. This doesn’t just refer to customer-centric marketing. Today’s landscape is extremely competitive. Consumers want to know that when they vote with their wallets, they’re voting for an organisation that stands for more than just profits; that the product or service will add something to their lives and the planet.

Similarly, defining this ‘reason for being’ is especially critical for attracting and retaining the best talents in any organisation. Large and growing businesses of the future will seek out rainbows of opportunity, never putting all their eggs in one basket but exploring every possible avenue for growth. These organisations will be flexible, always ready to test new ways of collaborating and selling.

We increasingly see the importance of expanding the lens through which we view and monitor competitors, especially when considering how rapidly markets are shifting due to technological innovations and changing consumer expectations. A new competitor can seemingly emerge from nowhere to challenge a perceived existing market leader. You only have to look as far as the likes of Netflix, who claims that the video game Fortnite is a bigger competitor than other streaming services, to appreciate the scope that should be applied to competitor monitoring.

Getting it right

When the decision is made to focus on growth, companies need to look at why their company exists and articulate their ambition in terms of the impact on people and the world around them.

That means linking business growth to KPIs that demonstrate human growth and ensure this is also part of their incentive structures. This is very different from the traditional approach of prioritising only financial objectives and involves a total focus on benefiting customers, colleagues, and communities. The fact is that any business model can be copied, with the consequence that what stands out as a brand is the ability to link commercial ambitions to something more meaningful.

Secondly, they need to look at what they do. That means ensuring they offer ever-evolving experiences instead of just products or services, have the flexibility to use multiple business models, constantly view themselves as market challengers rather than incumbents, and consider how that changes their behaviour. It means ignoring the fact that you might have 30% market share and considering life as a 3% company but with ample room to grow. This change of viewpoint drives a constant desire to optimise what works. It encourages businesses to build in-house innovation labs and explore unexpected acquisition possibilities.

And finally, organisations need to look at how they operate. Seeing that this includes company culture, it can often be the hardest part because it means loosening up internal hierarchies and pushing accountability down to consumer-facing staff. Offering staff new career paths that enable them to leap around rather following a set route to the top is a new and challenging mind-set, but it rewards those demonstrating entrepreneurship within the company.

A cultural revolution

Changing cultures so that innovation and diversity is part of the company ethos pays dividends because it allows colleagues to collaborate seamlessly and with a common goal. This can give teams the freedom to demonstrate a diversity of thinking that allows them to anticipate opportunities and threats, as well as generating new insights that combine creativity, data, and technology well before their competitors.

Part of this culture shift should be to create an environment where employees feel safe enough to explore unchartered territories, fail regularly, and learn as a result. Organisational learning can only happen through individual learning, which means accepting failure as a step in the process towards growth results in organisations that are more capable of spotting and taking advantage of elusive growth opportunities.

Making these changes is not easy and can’t be done in a day, but any business that has a need for growth should accept change. In today’s rapidly evolving world, few of us can rely on the old routes to growth, which is why we should all be open to exploring new routes to success.

Only by examining all aspects of the way we behave as business leaders, marketers and individuals can we ensure that we are truly doing everything possible to drive growth for our companies and our people.

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