Unlike a general company-level vision which is usually just aspirational, something that resonates with both internal and external stakeholders, a company’s growth vision is highly actionable and achievable. Intended for internal use, the growth vision articulates what success looks like 3-5 years from now, how it will be achieved, and the specific, measurable KPIs that will be used to measure it.
Not convinced your organization needs a growth vision? Try this exercise at your next executive meeting and you might be surprised. Give the team 3 minutes to write down what success for your organization looks like in 3 years and what needs to happen between now and then to realize this success. It is likely that the responses you receive will be quite diverse, presenting several viable paths to success.
This should not be surprising; in fact, it is actually quite exciting to be in a place where there are multiple ways to achieve growth, whether it is via market expansion, product development, acquisitions, increased marketing, etc. The problem occurs when leaders, eager to demonstrate progress and early indicators of success, try to pursue all these paths at once, fueling internal chaos and conflict. To get ahead of going down this unproductive path, carve out the time to establish a growth vision.
Step 1: To kick off the process, conduct an honest internal assessment, gathering input from other executives and key stakeholders. This exercise should be intense and difficult; it should reveal what is working and what is not. It should underscore unique internal assets and strengths while surfacing organizational weaknesses and competitive vulnerabilities. As old school as it is, we’ve found the most effective way to manage this process is through a good old SWOT analysis.
Step 2: Use insights gained from the assessment to define a vision that allows the organization to reach its growth goals and meet investor expectations in the most efficient way. What needs to happen next and/or hold true over the next 3 years to make the vision a reality?
Step 3: Gain the buy-in of your executive team. Surface any tensions or doubt in the vision and WORK THROUGH THEM. Then, empower your executives to effectively galvanize their own teams around the growth vision.
Not all growth is created equal. The best kind of growth for recently funded, growth-oriented companies is efficient growth – maximum impact in the shortest time requiring the least amount of investment. The path to efficient growth may deviate from long-held organizational beliefs and executive biases on how future success will be reached. That’s okay. Working through this will enable you to build an even more powerful growth vision – it will serve as a North Star for the organization, a way to objectively make decisions around resource allocation and prioritization, and a ‘limiter’ to ensure the company remains on the same success path.