As strategy and innovation consultants, we get called in to organizations when they are exhausted from trying to grow significantly and not meeting their goals. In most cases, the organization is trying to do too many things without a way to tie them into a coherent meaning.
Most of them need to either discover or rediscover and articulate what we call their Golden Thread, their driving aspiration. This thread can serve as the lead rope that ties all of the company’s initiatives into a single fabric, weaving the vision, purposes, strategy and also the more pragmatic elements such as resources, competencies, operating systems, and management structure into a unified whole. Think of the driving aspiration as the organizing principle of the company.
This driving aspiration will rebirth the company into its rightful position as leader in the category that it may have created, the same category that has become commoditized by private label and edged by many types of other new, unforeseen competitive threats.
Without the rudder of a driving aspiration that will company will attempt to growth for merely the sake of growth—the theory of cancer—and not reach the type of growth that pays off a coherent strategy and compounds the value of the company in the market, increasing both share and market value exponentially.
In other words, the Growth Plan needs a disciplined, strategic rudder and a map to navigate its growth in a dynamic market. For such a growth journey, we first need to proclaim what are doing and where we are going, the essence of a driving aspiration.
To change the culture in a way that will position us for sustained market leadership, we will need to ensure the following steps are performed:
- Vet a number of Driving Aspiration models with leadership and management.
- Solve the right problems and answer the right questions with the chosen Driving Aspiration.
- Ensure the Driving Aspiration is a triple win for consumers, customers, and the company.
- Align all resources, operating systems, management structures, and company processes to the Driving Aspiration.
- Resolve to sell off, kill, or drop all projects and corporate programs that do not ladder up to the Driving Aspiration.
- Road test the Driving Aspiration by running the strategic premise through a model of where to play and how to win—and to learn what we really need to know
- Create an execution playbook based on this strategic tuning fork once the team signs off on a Driving Aspiration.
- Agree to filter all new opportunities for growth (organic and acquisitive) through both the Driving Aspiration and the set priorities in place to make the aspiration a fruitful reality, without exception.
- Say “no” to anything that does not fit the driving aspiration.
The adage is profoundly true: strategy is choice. A driving aspiration helps an organization make more informed and refined choices. Everything for new hires to new product development, to killing product lines that may be hurting the brand, to how customer service should be approached, to how resources are deployed should be fine-tuned by the driving aspiration.
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Michael Graber is the co-founder and managing partner at Southern Growth Studio, a Memphis, Tennessee-based firm that specializes in growth strategy and innovation. A published poet and musician, Graber is the creative force that complements the analytical side of the house. He speaks and publishes frequently on best practices in design thinking, business strategy, and innovation and earned an MFA from the University of Memphis. Follow Michael @SouthernGrowth