The number 1 reason businesses don’t grow

Apr 20, 2011

So I’ve managed, somehow, in the course of 30-odd years of doing what I do, to work with 900 or so businesses closely enough to be definitive about why some of them grow consistently, and others – most of them – do not.The number one reason most businesses don’t grow (large or small, and everything in between)? It’s the same reason most not-for-profits fail to reach their goals. And it’s the same reason most sports franchises aren’t champions.

What is that reason? Well, let me tease you first with what it isn’t: It isn’t their strategy.

Truth is, most strategies are only about 60-70% ‘right’ at the best of times, and in many cases, they start out pretty much half baked (read Paul Allen’s account of the launch of Microsoft in his new memoir ‘Idea Man’ – not an affiliate link – to get an idea of just how half baked a strategy can be, even in wildly successful companies). Conversely, I’ve seen many businesses with world-class strategies fall flat on their face.

No, the #1 reason businesses fail to grow, and instead trickle along, or lurch from famine to feast and back to famine, or never get off the ground, or consume every waking ounce of their founder / owner / CEO / senior management teams’ resources without spitting out anything like a reasonable return on effort is not because of their strategy…

It’s because they have the wrong team.

Here’s what I mean, in graphic form (you know I like me a good 2 x 2):

Strategy versus Team

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What this shows is that you can have the greatest strategy, but if you don’t have the right team working it, you’re doomed. Conversely, a great team will take even a poor strategy and will amend it, fix it on the fly, adapt and improvise until they get it right. Until, like Spring, growth appears…and stays.

Tomorrow I’ll explain why most teams fail to deliver consistent, dependable growth – ‘Predictable Success’, if you will – but in the meantime, in the interest of self-directed learning, if your businesses isn’t currently delivering the growth you want, look around, and ask yourself this:

“What’s missing in my team?”

And by the way…it doesn’t matter if your ‘team’ comprises 35 SVP’s scattered around the world, or you, your dog, and your spouse – the principles are exactly the same.