If I asked everyone responsible for innovation and growth in your company, “why will we matter in the future?” or “where will we grow next?” would I hear similar answers?

Most companies I work with are clear on the story of who they are today. They’ve diligently prepared their core business with corporate narratives, a sharp operating rhythm, plenty of evidence, and opportunities to improve margin. Their core business rallies around consolidation, market expansion, and enablement transformation, to live out the promises they are making to their stakeholders.

They’re also likely to have plenty of brilliant people working on what’s next, and for good reason: the majority (54%) of large companies expect more than half of their revenue to come from net-new sources over the next three years. The challenge is that the people responsible for that future revenue—the brilliant, talented architects of your future growth—are pursuing limited moves. They’re often working at the edges of the company, are stuck in pilot purgatory, or following many different lines of inquiry. They might be clear on the challenge at hand, but less clear on what will move the business in a meaningful way to occupy a different position in the future.

When growth is pursued by more than one team, success relies on a common Growth Agenda: an inspiring future story about what your company might become, reinforced by growth territories where you have a right to win.

Why is the growth story being left behind? And what can leaders do about it?

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Developing a clear and inspiring Growth Agenda can help your company move boldly into the future. It can help unite disparate teams, place bets cohesively and confidently, guide smart decision-making, and create the foundation for always-on growth.

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A strong Growth Agenda provides three things:

  1. A future story to inspire belief;
  2. A container for a portfolio of bets that provides focused optionality;
  3. A framework for growth-based decisions that helps distinguish between near-term and longer-term investments.

Create your future story

Growth Agendas articulate why new growth and where next. They inspire people to believe that your company can do or be something other than what you are today, and organize new pursuits.

While it may take a couple of months to shape your Growth Agenda, lacking one could cost you far more in duplication and failure to launch. Like any great story, your Growth Agenda will only stick if it’s connected to the reality of your business and co-created with your teams. Here’s how to start:

    • Develop your storylines. Clarify your specific growth territories: the fertile space you want to, have a right to, and see demand to occupy.
    • Make them real. Refine your territories, and how you’ll pursue them, by incorporating the voices of intent (the strategic players in your business) and voices of experience (your customers and employees), outing challenges that would otherwise paralyse early efforts.
    • Build momentum. When belief must come before proof, it’s important to show progress early and spread those ideas. Seed the story throughout your organization until it exists as mantra.

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Build focused optionality

As you develop your Growth Agenda, you can build proof by placing a portfolio of bets that align with your future story.

While analysis and benchmarking are great tools for placing bets in the core business, net new growth requires you to think differently about both data and risk. It can be challenging to invest in new growth because the market potential is not always known, and demand is sometimes maturing at an unfamiliar rate.

Growth Agendas help you overcome these barriers by encouraging optionality within defined parameters. A portfolio of options is just as valuable for a beverage company as a utilities provider, both of which may now be thinking about a move into home entertainment or marketplaces! Though it might come more naturally to an investor or platform native, a portfolio of options:

    1. Diversifies and smooths out less quantifiable risk;
    2. Encourages lean investment draw-down rather than lump spending;
    3. Shows leverage between different moves so that early successes can be extended upon quickly;
    4. Tests new products or ventures at every point in market.

Drive growth-based decisions

One great advantage of a Growth Agenda is that it provides the basis for a decision framework. A well-designed Growth Agenda can help your teams determine where to invest and focus: what opportunity areas to entertain, validate, progress and kill, and how to prove growth potential early.

This entices growth leaders to think through the evidence needed at key progression points: signals based more in predictive and social data, intent and take-up as ideas are tested in market, rather than from historic operational data feeds.

Best of all, a strong Growth Agenda will help teams distinguish between where they are ‘making to launch’ for near-term growth opportunities, versus where they are ‘investing to learn’ for longer-term growth horizons.  

Showing teams how the Growth Agenda is helping drive decisions will help strengthen the power of your future story and boost your teams’ shared belief in the future, so those bright people you fought hard to hire can do what they do best: create meaningful new growth for your business.

To learn how you can unite your business around a common Growth Agenda, contact us.

Alex Glenn is Managing Director, Growth & Business Design ANZ, Accenture Interactive.



Alex Glenn

Managing Director – Song, Growth & Business Design ANZ

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