As a businessperson, I much prefer using existing products and processes to drive sales through acquiring new customers and getting current customers to buy more, more often. That’s organic growth as opposed to buying growth through buying a competitor (ex. HP buying Compaq) or buying into a new market (ex. Coca-Cola buying Odwalla).
In THE ROAD TO ORGANIC GROWTH, Edward Hess takes a Jim Collins-like approach to find 22 businesses that epitomize the organic growth model. With research backed by a comprehensive study, Hess set forth to explain the underlying qualities these 22 businesses have in common. Hess whittled his findings into a list of Six Keys to Organic Growth.
Below is a cut/paste synopsis of Hess’ findings. It’s interesting fodder for all us marketers. Enjoy.
The Six Keys to Organic Growth
“Growth achieved through a commitment to customer satisfaction, employee engagement, and core profitability—organic growth—is a smart long-term strategy for any company. Organic growth represents the underlying strength and vitality of the core business.” (p. 1)
“Our investigation found that [high-organic growth] companies generally possessed the six keys discussed below.” (p. 20)
1. An Elevator Pitch Model
“High growth companies have a simple, understandable business model that their employees can understand and execute—none has a complex or sophisticated strategy.” (p. 70)
2. Instill a “Small Company Soul” into a “Big Company Body”
“High organic growth performers have a small-company soul housed in a big-company body. A small company soul is entrepreneurial, with employees having ownership of the customer, being held accountable for results, and sharing in the rewards of those results.” (p. 81)
3. Measure Everything
“One of the six keys to building a consistent high organic growth company is measurement—of everything. The 22 companies on the organic growth index (OGI) list track a variety of metrics—financial, operational, behavioral—to understand which areas of their business are not performing as efficiently as possible, and then they take action to shore up those numbers.” (p. 97)
4. Build a People Pipeline
“All the high-growth companies have a high management and employee retention, high employee loyalty, and high employee productivity as compared with their competition. Employees in these companies ‘own’ their results and their careers, and most even own part of the company. These companies’ management teams are frequently home grown, with long company tenures.” (pgs. 22, 117)
5. Leaders: Humble, Passionate, Focused Operators
“Rather than being overly confident about their success, at high organic growth companies, leaders are frequently paranoid about complacency, arrogance, and hubris. Although many leaders are very wealthy, for the most part, you would not know this from their dress, their office, their demeanor, their attitude, or any outward appearance. Few of the leaders, if any, take credit themselves. There is a sincere respect for line workers, where many had begun their careers.” (pgs. 139, 140)
6. Be an Execution and Technology Champion
“The high-organic companies generally do not have unique strategies, products, or services, nor are they market-leading innovators. But they are execution champions—day after day, they have figured out how to get consistent high-quality performance from their people. These companies use technology to drive efficiencies across their value chain. To them, technology is not a service function; it is an operational function.” (pgs. 23, 161)