7 Failures of Business Growth

If you want to stand out in today’s marketplace, you must work smarter, not harder. This is easier said than done, however, as despite their best intentions, companies get snarled in the glaring failures that derail business growth and stagnate profits.

In order for you to avoid these failures, you have to be aware of the most common ones and the strategies for combating them. The following will help you turn failure into success.

1. FAILURE TO ANTICIPATE

Most companies react to change as it occurs. You must anticipate and plan for future changes. You can anticipate a great deal in your industry. For example, are automobiles of the future mostly going to be electric instead of gas? Many think so. Could automobiles hover like drones instead of drive on four wheels? Of course!

Instead of being a crisis manager and reacting to change, anticipate changes so you can drive growth from the inside out. Spend one hour a week focusing on predictable opportunities to strategize and become more of an opportunity management organization.

2. FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE
There is a difference between informing and communicating. Informing is one-way and static,  and seldom leads to action. Communicating is two-way and dynamic, and usually leads to action. We have these fantastic Communication Age tools but use them in an Information Age way. If you can’t communicate internally with your staff, how can you communicate externally to customers and shareholders? When you focus on maximizing two-way communication, you can create a Communication Age organization and accelerate positive change.

3. FAILURE TO COLLABORATE
The majority of people tend to cooperate, which is a lower-level function different from collaboration. Even though we often use the word “collaborate,” we frequently really just mean “cooperate.” Cooperation means, “I won’t get in your way if you won’t get in mine.” Such an approach produces results but certainly not outstanding results, because it’s based on a scarcity mentality.

Collaboration is instead based on abundance and gets competitors to work with you rather than against you. It occurs when we put our heads together and ask ourselves, “How can we create a bigger pie for everyone?”

4. FAILURE TO INNOVATE
When asked what their last big innovation was, most companies have to go back five or ten years to cite something meaningful, as the majority of companies innovate once, form a company around the innovation, and then let it ride. They stop innovating and instead spend a great deal of effort asking themselves how they can become more efficient by doing more with less, reducing overhead, and using technology better. You must ask yourself how you can use technology and staff to create new products and services to increase sales all around. Innovation fuels profitability and efficiency.

5. FAILURE TO PRE-SOLVE PROBLEMS
Always remember that a problem isn’t an opportunity in disguise; it is a problem! A problem is only an opportunity before it occurs, and most problems we experience are predictable. If you ask customers what they want and then give it to them, you’re missing the real opportunity. Instead, you need to think at a level higher and ask yourself and your customers, “What problems are we about to have?” Develop new solutions based on those answers and base your product development on your customer’s future problems

6. FAILURE TO DE-COMMODITIZE
Unfortunately, most companies come up with something new and make it their main product. Other companies copy the product, and then market saturation occurs. Try de-commoditizing your offering by taking your product and putting a service wrapper around it. For example, in the electricity industry, the utility provider cannot increase prices without permission from ratepayers. One electric company bypassed this limitation by creating what it calls “digital electricity.” They sold customers a product that, for a higher cost, prevented any fluctuation of voltage from occurring. Many big companies signed up for this more expensive service, and in the near future, homeowners with streaming devices will have a similar interest. This electric utility took a product and wrapped a service around it in order to de-commoditize.

7. FAILURE TO DIFFERENTIATE
Too many companies become just like everyone else. True strategic planning needs to be more than numbers based; it needs to focus on how you can differentiate your company and products from those of the competition. You differentiate by avoiding all the failure modes we’ve discussed that prevent business growth. You anticipate, communicate, collaborate, innovate, pre-problem solve, and de-commoditize. Become what your competition isn’t in order to differentiate.

BUSINESS SUCCESS IS ON YOUR HORIZON

When you know the failures to avoid and the strategies for combating them, you’ll be well on your way to learning from these failures, rethinking the way business is done, and creating an organization that continues to grow despite external factors.

NEXT STEP: Pick up your copy of The Anticipatory Organization to discover proven strategies to accelerate innovation and shape the future–before someone else does it for you!

Move Your Organization into the Communication Age

For the last several decades, we have been working hard at helping our company become an information age organization, finding new and better ways to distribute and display information. Having 24/7 access to email and web sites via our mobile devices, it’s hard to find any area in an organization that doesn’t provide access to information.

We receive more information than we can keep up with. Between numerous collaborative tools, memberships to multiple informative groups, subscriptions to paid and free information funnels, and being subject to mobile advertising, we’re literally drowning in information.

We must propel our organizations into the communication age to reach the next level of organizational excellence and to solve information overload.


Informing Versus Communicating

Informing is one-way, static, and seldom leads to action, while communicating is two-way, dynamic, and usually leads to action.

Ask yourself, “In our organization, are we better at informing than communicating?” The majority will answer “yes.” If you can’t communicate internally with your staff, how can you communicate to anyone externally? Do not stop informing people; start tapping into true communication. When you focus on maximizing two-way communications, you can create a communication age organization.

Fully embracing the communication age doesn’t erase the information age. You don’t want to erase the past; you want to move forward into the future. The “new” opens more options to innovate and lead. We did great at evolving into information age organizations, so we should move forth into the communication age in a similar fashion.


The Right Tool for the Job

Ironically, we have all these fantastic communication age tools, but we use them in an information age way due to our residual information age mindset. It’s time to learn how to use these tools in a way that advances the organization and promotes both internal and external communications. Here are suggestions that can help move your organization into the communication age.

  • Know and learn how people communicate.

Not everyone communicates in the same way. It’s common for some to not return voicemails but return text messages. Likewise, people in different generations prefer different communication tools. The key is to understand how people like to communicate. People tend to use the communication tool they’re most comfortable with. Also, ask the other party how they prefer to receive communications. If your goal is to elicit some sort of action, you have to communicate in the manner that will allow the other party to respond.

Just as people communicate differently, they also learn and absorb information differently. Some people would rather listen to a book than read it. Knowing this, it is safe to assume that person would likely prefer voicemail over email. A person’s learning style mirrors his or her communicating style. Deliver the message in a way that ties into their learning style.

  • Get social inside the organization.

Social media is all about communicating and informing. Before social media, the internet was solely for informing. Because of this shift to informing and communicating, it has been rapidly embraced by young and old alike. Companies should consider using these communication tools internally. Many social media platforms are great ways to connect employees across departments, regions, and countries. You can even have your own internal version of these popular social media platforms.

Reframing the use of social networking allows companies to increase communication, collaboration, problem solving, and competitive advantage with little cost. These tools are free or nearly free, making them accessible to organizations of any size. Embrace these tools and utilize them to enhance your communication of information that generates action and response.

  • Create community.

Two types of online communities exist: communities of interest and communities of practice. A community of practice is a professional type of community where members share their knowledge and best practices.

A community of interest is an environment where people share similar interests or passions. You can even get granular when it comes to communities of interest to filter information. Perhaps you narrow down your car community to one that only includes people who drive a Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat.

In your organization, you can set up virtual communities of practice in order to get people communicating ideas and sharing knowledge and expand it to diversify communication. For example, establish a community of practice for all the CEOs in your industry, which opens up the communication channels for enhanced dialogue and innovation industrywide.


Embrace the Future Today

These suggestions are aimed at improving communications rather than merely providing more information. You need to ask yourself how your organization can use these tools not only internally but also with your customers to enhance information and add communication.

Using today’s technology in a way that opens a meaningful dialogue will move your people to action and advance the organization to new levels of success.


Ready to see the future and plan with greater confidence?

Pick up a copy of my latest bestselling book The Anticipatory Organization. I’ll pick up the cost of the book if you pick up the cost of FedEx shipping. Go to www.TheAOBook.com to get your copy.