How connected is your organisation behind a single vision for growth?
If nothing else, Brexit is a wonderful example of how dysfunctional an organisation can become when its members can’t agree on a single vision of the future. Every day we watch as parties and the teams within them disintegrate into factions, as debate degenerates into acrimonious arguments and as progress on other priorities stalls.
Disconnected organisations miss opportunities and waste resources
For ‘national crisis’ read ‘organisational crisis’. Teams and individuals can diligently pursue their departmental and personal goals, but a lack of alignment with other functions restricts results, wastes resources and potentially creates inter-departmental conflict and a loss of trust.
How much better would it be if every department and the individuals in them were making their own aligned contribution to the achievement of a shared objective?
What uniting to achieve a shared objective looks and feels like
Now, imagine a company where there is a shared growth objective and a shared agreement on how to achieve it:
- Board level decisions on M&A, major capital investments and then functional spends would be consistently contextualised and understood. Finance would be better able to allocate funds more effectively with greater strategic clarity on the necessity to spend.
- Marketing would be clear on the behaviour changes in specific target groups that will make the biggest incremental gains across the next three to five years. Consumer-centric Growth Drivers would be created to align the portfolio against these opportunities and to spread brand plans across the full opportunity map. Gaps would be clear, with the subsequent plan for renovation, then (and only then) innovation, being commonly understood.
- Customer Marketing teams, jointly responsible with their brand counterparts for shopper marketing and the owners of all things traditionally called out as Category Management deliverables, would be able to create channel plans that deliver Marketing’s targeted behaviour changes set out within the Growth Drivers.
- Understanding the differences in shopper missions by channel would mean a different set of strategies by channel. All recommendations on range, merchandising and promotions would be contextualised and better understood internally.
- Externally, key customers would be better aligned. A growth strategy, tailored by the major customer, builds greater strategic alignment. Business plans would have a consistent theme across a two to three-year period, one based on a joint delivery of a tailored growth strategy, rather than the usual operational and short-term focus of today. Every initiative taken to each customer would be understood and be seen to be delivering the agreed joint strategy, leading to quicker, deeper and cheaper distribution gains.
- HR would better know the priorities for building capability, so that the organisation can sustainably deliver its growth agenda.
Fanciful? No, not in our experience. Yes, it’s challenging, but with the right guidance it’s within the grasp of most CPG companies – and the rewards are well worth the effort.
10 tips for the creation of a unifying growth strategy
1. Secure cross-functional support
Don’t start until you have secured cross-functional support for creating the growth vision and supporting strategies. Each function, particularly Marketing, must enter a well-managed process with their eyes wide open to the potential implications of this work. Be very clear – this is a consumer-centric approach, based first and foremost on consumers and their needs. So, Marketing’s involvement from the start is essential.
2. Nominate a steering committee
Nominate a guiding steer-com group comprising department heads of the core commercial functions and have this team report into an overall Board-level sponsor.
3. Select your core team carefully
The core team is essential – make becoming part of it aspirational and recognised as an achievement. Share the roles across those who have already ‘arrived’ and those who are ‘up-and-coming’ stars of tomorrow. This team will shoulder much of the work, but they are setting out the company’s future strategy and their outcomes today will become the day-to-day functional work focus of everyone tomorrow.
4. Get your data in order
Assess multiple sources of data. Mix and match different data points before commissioning new research. If you have obvious knowledge gaps, surmise a hypothesis and ask new research to either prove or disprove it. Do not blindly commission work without being clear on why the results of it will be critical in shaping a growth agenda.
5. Quantify your growth opportunities
As a group, identify and quantify the Growth Drivers. Be clear on the criteria for quantification. Your role is not to achieve (the impossible) 100% accuracy, but rather to create a methodology which is sensible and can hold up to the inevitable challenges that will be asked.
6. Prioritise the opportunities
Prioritise and agree which opportunities your company will pursue and over what timeline. No business can ever take on everything, so be clear on which ones you will focus on and when. Do some priorities sit in the scope of existing plans and resources and therefore can be more quickly delivered, or will others require a longer-term focus and be more likely to be delivered at the end of a three to five year growth agenda period?
7. Create unifying strategies
Use your vision to create the unifying strategies that characterise successful businesses. Make sure that portfolio and brand plans are written to overcome all barriers currently preventing each priority opportunity happening. Cascade these plans down to channel strategies and executional guidelines impacting the category management basics by channel. Use the opportunities to create stronger Shopper Marketing initiatives. Externally, align with known customer strategies and create better strategic business plans across a longer time-frame. Develop financial models to quantify forecasted customer revenue and profit growth and base your joint plans on the results.
8. Share the vision and strategies
Share the vision and subsequent strategies broadly within your business. This is a company-wide initiative and needs to be consistently understood by everyone playing a role in its delivery, including the teams in Manufacturing, Distribution and Finance. HR or Learning and Development will need to focus on building capability in potentially different areas.
9. Define critical success measures
Define critical success measures and monitor them. Create a suite of key performance indicators which measure what’s important across a breadth of both mental and physical availability measures. What is Marketing trying to achieve and how is this being supported by Customer Marketing and Sales?
10. Share your results
Share results throughout the company. Be committed to doing so at regular intervals across the entire period of your growth agenda.
The process creates connected organisations…
The concept of synergy, the idea that combined resources produce more than the same resources used in isolation, isn’t currently particularly fashionable. That’s a shame, because we at Quantic passionately believe that connected organisations produce better results and synergies lie at the heart of this ambition.
Creating and implementing a unified growth plan breaks down inter-departmental barriers, improves information flows and increases trust. It accelerates your organisation’s growth and builds alignment with your key customers.
All this must be good for organisations and everyone who works in them.
Thanks for reading. If you’d like to understand more about Quantic’s approach to delivering this degree of connection, then look out for our next four articles being posted across the next few weeks. Our next post will be focused on the critical role of Marketing in shaping growth agendas.