For an entrepreneur or someone who manages a team, the difference between good and average team performance can mean a great deal.

It’s not enough anymore to sustain, growth is not an option.

In a world of lean start-ups and shorter idea-to-market cycles, growth is the only sustainable option.

After struggling most for my ‘founder journey’, I was desperate to grow. We had some customers who loved what we did, the team was passionate but we weren’t doing well as a company. It always made me sad and constantly question every decision I made.

We were stuck between sustaining and being sustainable. Working harder, but less to show for it.

If you’re someone who feels stuck & frustrated, this is for you.

We tried a lot of things as a team last 3 years; few of these worked better than rest. By no means these ideas are revolutionary, but they do provide the required clarity we all struggle for during the daily grind.

Here are 4 things we did to script a growth phase that we are still on.

1. The Brilliance of Range Architecture

Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, in history as we know it; ousting John Sculley and then scrapping 70% of Apple’s then product line. The general idea being that Apple should focus on few core products. I love the idea of focus for teams, but it’s often misleading.

Everyone knows that focus is imperative, but how narrow should your focus be?

Range architecture is a product planning idea that can be applied to building the correct width of focus for teams. It simply means building a service or product portfolio with just enough choices at different price points.

Very often we tend to look at customer choices as the holy grail of sales, but as Apple demonstrates this can be counter-productive. At 5By7, we decided to narrowed down our ideal customer and had just enough product options to drive decision making.

This simplified our supply chain and made us communicate our product range better, thereby increasing our sales. I encourage teams to be the anti-Amazon, far lesser product range but more problem-solving in nature.

2. Details > Scale

We speak a lot about scale but not enough about details.
Aiming for a high growth rate without being obsessed about details is like playing Jenga without having a solid base; the higher you try to go the faster you reach failure.

This is the biggest reason why deep-pocketed start-ups and teams with a high level of resources fail.

Let’s be clear, high paced growth isn’t linear. We have to play the short and long game both. We have to build and build till we get the product right, not let sales pressure get to us, get the details right first.

(Note — I am fascinated with ‘Deep Work’ lately, one book I highly recommend on doing focussed detail-oriented work is ‘Deep Work by Cal Newport’).

3. Team Culture is a Strategic Advantage

Over the past 18 months, BMW India has scripted a remarkable performance. 2017 was their best year ever and highest car sales growth in the premium segment.

Having worked closely with the BMW team, it's clear that they have invigorated the team and used company culture for growth. The culture pitfall we need to avoid as leaders is ending up with pseudo-culture that hides behind legacy traditions and brand snobbery.

We don’t fail to build a culture, we often fail to build the right one.

Team culture should be based on big audacious goals, yet remaining humble. On a common vision, yet everyone clearly understanding what their role is. Team culture either grows as a weed in the wild or can be nurtured like a  nursery, there’s no middle ground.

4. Offence is Always a Good Idea

Offence is good when you’re stable and planning to grow, it is even better when you’re playing to survive and have nothing to lose.

In my 9 years of being a leader, I can’t think of any solid growth that came out of a defensive play. Offence requires quick innovation, it pushes you to try things you haven’t done.

Very often, we mix offence with risk; we tell ourselves to be safe and play in our comfort zone.

Thinking of your next move and quickly learning from it if this fails isn’t risky, it’s rewarding. You have to aim for a play that fosters growth; the strides can be small but still a step forward.

Closing Thoughts

The traditional idea of stability worries me. For such a state has thus far meant doing the same things and having the same results. If you’re not already scared of such a status quo, please be.

Stability ought to be replaced with sustainability; the idea that all our positive actions are a way for us to build a future with more predictable growth.

This article was originally posted on Medium



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