CATALYST Issue 1 - Page 64

Future Proof Generating growth through innovation About 20% of companies grow organically with their own resources faster than their competition. Some 27% are growth laggards and are always behind. So what makes a growth leader? T oday, what distinguishes growth leaders from growth laggards is ‘innovation prowess’ – a mix of strategic growth- seeking discipline and innovation ability. Growth leaders move ahead of the laggards and stay ahead. The laggards are always trying to catch up – and rarely succeed. At growth leaders such as Samsung, GE, Amex and LEGO, innovation is carried out in a context of high uncertainty – the bigger the innovation, the more uncertain the outcome. By embracing uncertainty, growth leaders say they are willing to take risks and put resources behind them, but are clear they will learn from their experiments. They don’t feel they have all the answers, but will try different things. They live by the mantra: start small, think big, learn quickly, scale fast. Growth leaders also start from the outside in. They stand in the shoes of their partners, customers and competitors and ask questions such as: “Where will our customers be in 10 years and how can we help them succeed?” They keep in mind the customers’ experience: satisfying their latent needs and trying to anticipate them is crucial. They are great networkers and open to diverse views. They have strategic foresight, and when they are presented with a challenge, they start to identify what’s behind it. They also create a culture that permits discovery – giving people the time to pursue their own interests. 64 George Day Professor of Marketing, Wharton School of Pennsylvania