Four Fundamentals of Revenue Growth

With recovery from the recession still moving at a snail’s pace, how worried should you be about your company's future revenue growth? In a word: very. "But wait," you might say. "Corporate profits are at their highest levels in 60 years, with profitability as a percentage of GDP at an all-time high of 10.3 percent. Companies are holding trillions in cash reserves, and are looking stronger than ever after squeezing every dollar of cost they could find out of their operations over the past four years." This is correct, but it fails to tell the whole story.

Speed of Execution

Business conditions continue to change at an exponential rate. Technology, product life cycles, and consumer preferences are all moving at a pace that requires speed and agility of execution. Moving too slow can mean losing market position, especially in today’s macro economy.

The successful program of change has two goals: to motivate the organization to rapidly act and to create a process that links organizational goals to the work that must be implemented. Yet while many businesses develop strategic plans for market share growth, the reality is that few achieve it. Why? Because there is a breakdown in the process between setting a vision and implementing the actions to achieve it. Success in not only executing the plan, but accelerating its implementation, requires a shift in thinking — one which recognizes that any growth strategy must be treated as a change initiative. AT&T’s failure in successfully communicating its technology strategy and implementing its organizational vision led to a loss of market share. The ultimate result: the best and the brightest departed for more innovative organizations. And, the company’s once market dominance gave way to corporate demise and the acquisition of AT&T by one of its Ma Bell spin-offs.

Managing change can be tricky in any economic environment. It is here that leadership can have its greatest impact. The changes that accompany any strategy require making a firm connection from the board to management to the implementation team. And, within each group, it is essential to identify members who can be tasked with championing the change agenda and creating accountabilities for its success.

Dr. John P. Kotter, the widely recognized expert and author on change, terms this as the creation of a “guiding coalition.” And, it is this group of champions that possesses the appropriate credibility and set of authorities to speed decision making and culturally drive the initiative forward. Many leaders have found that by building a team of interested and empowered individuals (at all levels in the organization) they’ve been rewarded with diverse points of view, new ideas and broader ranges of expertise — all necessary to anchor new approaches in the organization.

Defining the high level business strategy clearly and compellingly, and then connecting it to the associated supporting projects deep in the organization, sets the stage for communication, buy-in and ownership. Organizational speed requires a sound plan accompanied by the recognition that success will only emerge from an engaged organization that is fully aligned and committed to its priorities.

In conclusion, future revenue growth is not an abstract concept that can be left to work itself out down the road. Company leaders need to take bold steps now to quickly put that growth in motion. Focus, customer alignment, pricing management, and speed of execution are four critical components for succeeding in today’s sluggish macro economy.

Laura Keyser Brunner is president of MainStream Management LLC, a Robins, IA based consultancy, and has experience in organizational restructuring, employee engagement and programs to enhance the competitiveness of Fortune 500 and public sector clients globally. Prior to joining MainStream, she was a member of the ESI International, Inc. (“ESI”) executive management team for over 13 years. ESI is a $100M, publicly traded global company that provides project management learning programs. Prior to joining ESI, Ms. Brunner had a ten year career with AT&T.




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