What good can come of all this? My clients, colleagues and friends are all asking this question. We’ve been hit by a pandemic, unprecedented unemployment, and a global economic downturn. In the face of such personal and business tragedy, it might appear that the answer is “Zero.”
We are all reflecting on the long-term consequences of these times and what they have created for each of us as individuals and for our businesses. These outcomes will include some good along with the bad. Psychologists have long been studying this phenomenon. They refer to it as post traumatic growth .
Negative experiences can spur positive change, including identification of personal strengths, exploration of new possibilities, improved relationships, and greater appreciation of your staff and teams. So despite the problems and set backs of COVID-19, many of us can expect to develop in beneficial ways in its aftermath. And you as leaders can help others accomplish this as well.
Post Traumatic Growth Possibilities
So – can we leverage post traumatic growth possibilities? Let’s look at this idea from a reverse point of view. What are the barriers to sustainable growth for you and your company? My proposition today is that we look at what have always been our barriers, and solve them with a new post traumatic growth perspective.
Some barriers are out of our control – technology that doesn’t work or government regulation. But if you are prepared to re-focus on the barriers under your control, you have more options and opportunities.
Barriers to Growth – New Perspectives
Here is my list of the 12 most common barriers to sustainable growth. Each of these barriers requires a different response, so it’s important to diagnose your problem (i.e. get CLARITY) before looking for a solution. And your response will be very different today with your post traumatic growth perspective.
1. Lack of a Sustainable Business Model – The only way to grow a business without relying on a continual infusion of capital is to find a sustainable business model – one that that generates the cash necessary to fund continued growth of your business.
2. Misread Market Dynamics – Does the market not exist? Is the market ready? Or is the market is too small?
3. Weak or Unclear Value Proposition/Brand Promise – Why should someone buy your product? What problem do you solve with what benefits in cost reduction, revenue enhancement or operational improvement? The answer will affect product strategy, pricing, sales strategy and messaging.
4. Weak or Unclear Positioning – The same company with the same product can position itself to create high shareholder value, or to hit a wall. Getting positioning right is really hard work – growing your company without the right positioning is even harder.
5. Lack of an Effective Growth Strategy – What market segments is your company targeting? How does your company find and qualify prospects, using both traditional and digital media? What mix of sales channels makes the most sense?
6. Dysfunctional Team Dynamics (People and/or Alignment) – Your team needs more than just the right skills – it must also be a learning organization that can respond to change and adjust accordingly. Your team also has to be on the same page regarding customer priorities and operational challenges.
7. Insufficient Pipeline – One key piece of data to measure the health of your company is your pipeline coverage ratio. How much new business has your company identified and qualified compared with its committed revenue plan?
8. Ineffective Sales Process and/or Sales Productivity – There are two important measures of Sales effectiveness: one is the close rate (percentage of qualified deals that get closed) and the other is the win-loss ratio. If these metrics look reasonable, it may be better to analyze other parts of your growth engine such as the pipeline.
9. Poor Cash Flow Restricts Capital Availability – If your business model defines a future stream of profits and cash flow, how much would you be willing to pay to own a piece of that business, considering the risks associated with getting there? This is the question for venture capital and private equity investors.
10. Inattention to the Transformation of Customer Behavior – Due to the internet, access to more information than ever before, and the ability to real-time price compare, today’s customers are different – transformed. They are the new experts. And companies need to focus on being “first choice” with customers. If customers are not satisfied, there will be no repeat purchases, no referrals to other prospects, and no feedback to guide product improvements. The key is an early warning and response system.
11. Poor Delegation and Scaling – Common choke points to sustainable growth include the inability to scale key processes, people and knowledge; and key players who are unable to delegate all but their unique and valuable contributions to your business.
12. Poorly Developed Infrastructure/Systems – Systems set you free as your business complexity increases. Just like the formula in biology that states when a cell divides in two, the degree of complexity grows twelve fold; growth in your business creates a geometric rise in complexity.
If you are familiar with the book Who Moved My Cheese?, then you know that your cheese has definitely moved today! If you have not had the opportunity, I highly recommend this book. It uses a simple parable to reveal profound truths about dealing with change. And we are definitely dealing with a multitude of changes today.
Focus on your own post-traumatic growth experience and learning to help you build a better company with growth and greater value. Choose 2-3 of the barriers above and focus on them at you next Leadership Team Meeting. Contact me today if you would like to discuss your growth barriers.
All the best
© 2020 David Paul Carter. All rights reserved.
 Growth After Trauma by Richard G. Tedeschi. Harvard Business Review. July-August 2020.