Reset your assumptions
The first waypoint on the ROAD to growth is the need to reset assumptions. Any strategy a company makes is based on certain assumptions they hold about how their market will evolve and the nature of the competition they will face. Given the profound changes that have occurred over the last five years, many of these assumptions are now redundant. Business leaders need to reset their assumptions about the external environment, the growth outlook, and the competitive threats they face.
However, the process of resetting is not easy because existing modes of thinking often become entrenched at the individual and organisational level. A successful reset requires leaders to engage in open strategy conversations with their teams. These conversations should include dissenting voices and allow existing assumptions to be challenged. Throughout this process leaders must be aware of their own biases that may colour the process and distort the outcome. They also need to develop their mental flexibility so that they can quickly adapt previously held beliefs to rapidly changing circumstances.
Finally, in order to succeed, executives embarking on the new ROAD to growth also need to reset their assumptions about the role of leadership. In this regard they can learn from the example of CEO 3.0 - the new generation of executive that has broken with many established norms of leadership to build the businesses that are winning in today’s changed environment.
Organise for the future
The second point on the ROAD to growth is organising for the future. To respond to the varied and unpredictable challenges of today’s world and seize new opportunities as they emerge, leaders will have to build a very different type of organisation. Most importantly, India Inc. will need to transition from traditional hierarchical approach to more fluid structures, that encourage collaboration and foster faster adaptation. They will also need to engage and empower the new cohort of millennials that is re-shaping the workforce in India, and who have profoundly different attitudes and expectations to earlier generations.
Furthermore, as markets become more unstable and product life-cycles get shorter, companies will need to cultivate a culture of experimentation in their organisations to support faster innovation. To encourage this cultural shift companies will need to take a new approach to performance management. This will require a move away from annual performance reviews and toward frequent appraisal and recognition. Similarly, the nature of role progression in organisations will need to transition away from rewarding longevity through experience based promotion, and toward elevating those with the most relevant expertise for the journey ahead.
Advance with Agility
The third milestone on the ROAD to growth is agility. In a fast-changing world companies will need to quickly seize opportunities they may not have envisioned and respond to new threats from unexpected quarters. Agility requires that an organisation is capable of sensing signals, interpreting them correctly, and then acting promptly. To become agile companies need to develop a sharp organisational antennae to monitor activity on the periphery and sense the weak signals that could indicate new competitive threats or market shifts. They then need to put in place the processes to screen these signals.
Once the signals are detected, an agile response requires the right interpretation. For this to happen companies need to move out of the mode of denial and objectively consider the threats and the opportunities that a potential change might present. Here contingent thinking is a valuable tool. It shifts the focus away from trying to predict an outcome and instead examines different scenarios and how they might impact the business.
Lastly, a rapid response is critical to success in an era where new entrants are able to achieve the scale of incumbents in a matter of years. Companies must overcome inertia and acquire a bias for action in both offensive and defensive moves.
Digitalise your business
The fourth and final point on the new ROAD to growth is digitalisation. Every Indian company, whatever the sector, will need to put digital at the core of their future strategy.
To do this, businesses should first ask five critical question to set the right digital direction:
- how does digital bring opportunities and threats for our business?
- what stage of maturity has the organisation reached in digital?
- which areas need the most attention to build digital capabilities?
- what are the ambitions for the short and long-term?
- what challenges will we need to overcome?
After answering these questions based on their unique circumstances, India Inc. can take initiative in three areas to get started in the digitalisation process:
First, they can adopt the principle of start small, fail fast, to rapidly test digital initiatives and identify the ideas to which they should commit further resources.
Second, they can review their existing data assets and identify how they can be developed and leveraged to deliver a strategic advantage for the business.
Third, India Inc. will need to identify the critical digital talent inside and outside their organisation that will be essential to implementing digital initiatives. They will also need to bring these digital champions into the heart of the company’s strategic conversations.