Achieving and sustaining business growth is virtually impossible without collaboration. However, many companies are designed more for top-down command and control than vertical and horizontal engagement between executives, employees, partners and customers. This traditional hierarchical structure of companies is not conducive to creating and sustaining growth as it forces rigidity in information flows, knowledge sharing and leadership direction.
Within GrowthThinking®, Principle 16 of the Mechanics of Growth, proposes that Growth Enterprises use alternative organizational structures to facilitate and sustain growth.These specialized entrepreneurial structures can be embedded in or separated from the existing organization as a means to bypass legacy thinking, established systems and incremental growth practices. Take, for example, Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Development Programs, which is better known as Skunk Works. Compared to traditional aircraft development timelines, Skunk Works’ development was exceptionally successful and rapid, due to its alternative structure that was designed for speed, experimentation and multi-disciplinary collaboration. Although innovation and speed-to-market were the primary strategic outcomes, this alternative structure has significant entrepreneurial qualities that have produced iconic aircraft designs such as the U-2, the SR-7 Blackbird, and the F-117 Nighthawk. Companies aspiring to be Growth Enterprises should explore and ask these questions:
1) Can we create an alternative corporate structure that is designed for knowledge diffusion, experimentation and multi-disciplinary collaboration as a means to pursue transformational growth opportunities?
2) Can we develop an alternative corporate structure that is built around dedicated groups of internal entrepreneurs for on-going growth activity?
3) Can we develop a dedicated spinout of separate business venture to pursue specific entrepreneurial activity?
4) Can we develop alternative structures such as project-based teams and task forces for increased collaboration?
image credits: growthstrategy.com
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Wayne Simmons is an accomplished executive, innovator, value creator, and entrepreneur and co-author of GrowthThinking: Building the New Growth Enterprise. As CEO and Co-Founder of The Growth Strategy Company, Wayne leads the vision, strategy and growth of the company. He has worked for global advisory firms Ernst & Young, Deloitte Consulting, and has been a trusted advisor to C-level executives at Fortune 500 corporations, venture capital firms, and small and midsized companies. Wayne was trained in airborne reconnaissance for US Army Intelligence; and is an alumnus and Fellow of The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Keary Crawford is a results-driven executive leader with extensive experience in operations, M&A and finance for start-up, entrepreneurial and middle-market companies. As co-founder and COO of The Growth Strategy Company, she manages the strategic growth and vision, and day-to-day operations; and is co-author of GrowthThinking: Building the New Growth Enterprise. Keary was trained in Behavioral and Social Sciences and is a Fellow and alumna of the Executive Development Program at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.