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10 Strategies for Turbocharging a Mature Organisation's Growth Potential

Figuring out how to grow a large organisation is more difficult than growing a start-up. In a small company it is easier to focus on things that matter. If there is something wrong with a small company’s product it quickly becomes evident. If leadership is the issue, it will be obvious. The marketing plan for a small company is likely to be limited and simple.

Now imagine you are a consultant working for a global multi-billion dollar company that is stagnating. How do you assess what is needed to change the organisation and foster growth? There are several frameworks aimed at helping mature companies grow. For example, Greiner proposed a model in which he recognised five stages of growth which depended on the age of the organisation. These ranged from a creativity stage in a young company, a directional stage as it grew in size, a delegation stage as it got even bigger, a coordination and monitoring stage as it matured, and finally a collaboration stage as it reached a significant size. Greiner’s model proposed that there are crises at the end of each stage which assist in recognising the need to move forward into the next stage of growth.

A framework such as Greiner’s sounds useful but the different stages aren’t easy to recognise you can’t readily know when to move from one stage to the next. A better approach may be to consider factors that inhibit or promote growth within a mature organisation. Let’s consider what these may be:

Leadership. This is key to any organisation, large or small. However, in a large organisation leadership is more complicated because there are many senior managers running divisions and geographical territories. There will be a management board and a CEO drawing these senior managers together. It is the culture that they create that has a significant impact on the future growth of the mature organisation. Understanding culture and leadership in a large company is critical and highly sensitive. A consultant helicoptered in to sort out a large organisation will need skills and diplomacy to recognise the culture and suggest how leadership needs to respond if growth is to be achieved.

Innovation. Companies exist to deliver products and services. As they mature there is a danger that the original products and services that generated growth have lost their sparkle. All products and services have a life cycle and in a mature company it is quite possible that they need rejuvenating or replacing. Undoubtedly there will be upstart competition that is nibbling at the heels of the large company. There may be disruption in the marketplace that is changing the demand for the mature company’s products. Growth in a mature company must come from breathing new life into the products and services that are on offer.

Marketing. The basis for growth is marketing. In a mature organisation the marketing is likely to be a mess. There will be too many brands consuming too many resources and diluting the marketing effort. There will be confusion as to how customers can be segmented. There will be a focus on too many tactics and not enough on strategy.

Processes. Mature organisations have a multitude of processors. These will vary between divisions and across geographies. There will be some uniform processes throughout the group but there will be many local ways of doing things. A well-oiled machine needs to work in a uniform way and it isn’t easy to get people to change to a common system. There will be several things to consider. How is quality determined and what quality variations exist throughout the company? What management structures exist to ensure that the processes are observed? What IT systems are used for managing the processes?

So, there you have it. If you need to turbocharge a mature organisation, and you need a framework to guide you, laser on four things – leadership, innovation, marketing, and processes. And be prepared for the biggest problem of all – getting everyone to agree that change is necessary or more crucially that they need to change.


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