In business, growth does not happen by just hoping for it. Growth is an incremental process and it rarely happens overnight. For every enterprise growth takes time and prodigious efforts.
Yet, many greatly admired signature companies with enduring growth stories unexpectedly slow down and spew a rumble of speculations around “things not being right” inside their Golden Citadel.
Why large companies inevitably stumble and dissimulate against ostensible growth blocks?
Why an unstoppable company fails to ripple further and remains nakedly blind to its inflection point?
Why some successful companies get knotted with the same growth ratio after a stage?
So why do even best organizations get to a certain level…then just plateau?
You might have witnessed abundant examples of companies hitting a blank wall at some point of time in their growth journey. Many are often unmindful about it until it is too late. Even most fundamentally grounded organizations also at some point of time become ever more oblivious to such thwarting certainties. Most of the entrepreneurs fail to internalize a simple fact that their today’s organization is no longer the organization they began. Even upon such realization, they deceptively tend to invest upon interminable phases of fixing manifested symptoms rather than identifying the real core issues. They rather turn ham-fisted when it comes to enduring their erstwhile splendour.
The explanations are varied and you will find heaps of exhaustive literature on related topics. There are many interpretations piercingly researched and deliberated, but eventually everything adds up to few obvious provenances.
My inputs here are very uncommon for the companies which are carelessly entangled in the furrows of weariness. Even after experimenting with evidently available recommendations, if a company is still battling to shore-up to circumvent further slippages, following organizational virtues are worth considering.
Companies invest a lot to arrive to their dream point. The high sentiments of accomplishments are not bad, though the valued vanity echoes an ‘indecorous spiciness’ of stubborn triumph over a period. Such companies promulgate a guarded and secured outlook towards unveiled business realities. Unfortunately, pride has a natural affinity to shape into an appalling form called ARROGANCE. It is most fervently acquired, the simplest to rationalize, and the hardest to realize. The unbridled snobbish impudence inevitably leads to disparagement. It often parades an arrogant demeanour with puffed-up attitude. At times, large successful companies are too infatuated with themselves to revere anything or anyone else around them. They unknowingly acquire a mind-set essentially ballooned with deception of undisputed position in the industry.
A company is most vulnerable to display self-sufficiency when it is at the crowning of its attainment. I know companies which were once considered to be highly unassuming and humble, becoming big-headed with unprecedented success. They covertly endorse “We Know All” appeal. What companies overlook, however, is that the eminent steady growth has already hardened them to stay amiably cocooned inside their insulated comfort zone. They surreptitiously weave a wrapping of ‘knower’s ego’ and reflexively tend to slice their further learnings.
Arrogance has a tendency to cultivate an influencing mental predisposition. Companies make essential decisions without attentive logic. They believe in repeating what they know the best. The appetite to remain a potential ‘differentiator’ gently evaporates. Eventually, such companies are left with the notion of ‘foundational allegiance’ even when there is no end in sight. They develop a sense of certainty and not only remain fastened to it, but also continuously reinforce it in their decisions.
Arrogance is among the worst traits a company can afford. In my view, diligence and drive for renewal have an enchanted lucky charm, before which problems dissolve and growth hurdles die out. It is undoubtedly important for a company to be humbly “hungry” for growth and unyielding against road blocks. Inculcating the boldness of respecting available perspectives is incredible for continuous success. A company has to keep alive an undying aspiration in people to succeed every time. When a business gets stagnant and slow, a company should deferentially choose perseverance with humility.
Strategy is always variable and evolving. With time, most business models get foetid and need to be re-calibrated and reinvigorated. A linearly dependent and progressively ascending strategy will not necessarily work every time. At times, it has to be radically different and fluid. It is all about not selfishly safeguarding conventionally flagged path. It is absurd to believe that after reaching to a level of success, a company can afford to run on autopilot. Just because your business strategy worked in past, does not necessarily promise to be right for all the time. Most companies operate with the proverbial business model. With growth and size they become increasingly ingrained into familiar patterns and routines. They get comfortable with accredited pattern of thinking. It becomes unfathomable for companies to shift gears and evolve differentiating bold strategies when they are at peak.
The significance of ritualistic strategy is weakening today. It is fundamentally unmanageable for an organization to stick to an analogous business strategy throughout its evolution cycle and fancying of its growth objectives. Moreover, every successful company breeds clones. Often organizations remain around a set of preconceived broader casing of growth variables while shadowing classic examples of the industry. When a company is not quite certain about future possibilities, it imitates what others are doing.
Every company can certainly gain by learning about the best practices of other companies. Yet, it also must consider its inherent realities. Besides, developing the right attitude to institutionalize the distinctions of the established business models is quite difficult; as a result, many companies either copy an established company or stick to what they know as best. A strategy is not just the hard-ware of the company; it equally embraces softer side of the company too.
To evolve and succeed in today’s constantly changing business environment, you need innovative culture. Most companies often fail to appreciate unconventional thinking. Yet, innovation only induces us with the incredible promises of vast possibilities. Most successful companies took prodigious risks not because they were hasty but because that is the only way to move forward. Success always depends on innovativeness and perseverance. After achieving a sizable position in the industry landscape, it is imperative to have innovation at the heart of everything an organization does. In fact, culture of innovation has to cast its net wider by spreading much beyond technology and research platforms. Innovation is no more a matter of choice. It should be a way of life.
But a culture of innovation cannot exist without a culture of experimentation. Companies have no choice but to learn to be innovative by challenging all the disruptive odds heaped in their path. Fostering a culture where bright ideas thrive and rewarded. Conventionality perishes an organization because it suffocates good creative ideas. It has to be in organization characteristic to encourage innovative risks . Companies have to allow innovative ideas by circumvent the solid barricades of hierarchies. It has to be integral part of company philosophy to embolden unconventional thinking. If you don’t, your competition will.
However, as a company gets larger, it tends to become inward looking. Most companies recognize the need to innovate, but often feel reserved to do so because they are scared of taking risk. More established and successful the company, higher the sense of insecurity. There is obvious reluctance to experiment with unknown. Initiating breakthrough choices perceived to be risky affairs. There is an unstated burden to shield the existing image and prosperity. With size of the organization there is a tendency to infuse cogently refined blockades to jettison creative possibilities. Often the fear of failure and supposed embarrassment act as a powerful disincentive to experiment and evolve. Once a company gets to a certain size, it tends to lose its appetite for innovative risks, across all the facets of business.
Compromised People and Structure
Eventually, everything comes down to people. They are the ones who fuel an organization’s success. Value your people. Treat them as a powerful gift that will help you build your organization. Behind every successful company is an effective organizational structure – a structure designed to achieve a company’s strategic growth objectives, and one that enables people to undertake appropriate roles to fit into the larger picture. Talent and organizational structure can either reinforce or overturn a company’s growth plans. However, nourishing fast speed of growth can be challenging, though. It is often difficult for many organizations to splash the rapidity in developing people capabilities necessary to equal the faster leap of the business.
When a company grows, most employees try to keep up with the company demands. Yet, at some point of time, company will outgrow the skill sets required to meet higher challenges. Difficulties bursts forth when a company force-fit existing average people for high demanding key roles. Even those who are committed and loyal to company, may not be able to adjust to the changes brought about by speedy growth. If there are obvious capability gaps then company has to take some hard decisions. Besides, if you want to attract competent people, you will need to shed off old average associates and comforts of familiar loops. Paradoxically, there is another extreme too. At times, companies do take available talent for granted to eventually fritter away that asset
I have seen companies where the MD/CEO gets completely insulated by toadies and becomes utterly insensitive to the realities within and outside. Most companies create structure around existing people and land up having same limitations with tacit power games behind the scene. Eventually, the company gets stuck in an old way of doing the business. I know few companies where people who would not even qualify to justify a departmental head’s role are assigned to lead some large functions at CXO level. Whereas, it is extremely important to separate the organization structuring component from the eventual staffing process. Often companies take such critical “softer” issues as their last priority. Organization structuring is much beyond the line and box diagrams or a reward scheme to oblige loyalty. How your organization is designed unswervingly defines how it performs. It is an important enabler to achieve company’s strategy and goals.
Temptations and Feigned Governance
Temptation is a craving to engage in immediate short-term gains. We have seen many big scams in the recent past due to corporate governance failures. Globally, corporate arena is astounding by revelations of conflict of interest, financial manoeuvring, malfeasance, negligence, and self-indulgence. Insatiability of profit is most detrimental characteristic in your business.
At every professional platform, I have insisted that organization building is nothing but sacrificing short term temptations and having robust corporate governance is fundamental to that process. Corporate governance is key to a company’s credibility, integrity, and growth. It also means that a company promotes solicitation of the best management practices, compliance with prevalent laws – regulations and observance of ethical standards for effective management and deliverance of social obligation towards environment and stakeholders.
Often, ineffectual governance compromises the potential of the company to succeed. Unethical business practices mirror the values, attitudes, beliefs, and character of the organization. The attraction of short term gains threatens business sustainability and corrodes shareholders’ trust on company and management. It has lot to do with exaggerated overconfidence of leadership in the self and the company. Superciliousness echoes the penchant to misjudge or amplify one’s ability to shrewdly manipulate the system. At times, such individuals are rewarded too. It is all about what you want to encourage as an organization culture. Many companies tend to focus on short term lure of maximizing their value and gulping feel of achievement. Often, such fleeting temptations lead companies to a disparaging fall from what is morally and legally required to do a business.
The moral of the story!
Yes, it is true that most large established companies reach to a flat terrain someday. Slowdowns are an important part of business growth. Probably every organization goes through a low cycle. It is also true that many of them continue to surprise us. Those that flourish are not the result of any runic windfall. It is all about quality of courage, discipline, and Humility….Yes, slight sprinkle of providence too.