Growth: How do you identify blockers to growth within your organisation?

Tips on fathoming where to apply your focus as a leader and steer towards growth – from the 2017 series of Threads discussions.

Discussion host: Peter Cain, change and growth Consultant at Anamosys.


Don’t simply push harder in what might be the wrong direction. There may be an easier way, a quicker route or more lucrative business to pursue.

Setting the business development strategy

Business is a mixture of inspiration and perspiration. If you are an in-the-detail person, have someone who complements your approach by bringing their higher-level view.

Business success needs inspiration and perspiration. Inspiration needs a change of scene.

If your strategic thinking gets constantly interrupted by the day-to-day, then plan regular time away from the business to focus on the bigger picture. Set a key question to address then physically remove yourself from the daily stimulus of the business. Make this a regular habit.

If you can’t remove yourself physically then do so virtually by shutting yourself in a meeting room, putting on headphones, or using a ‘do not disturb’ notice.

Identifying blockers to growth

Your money making machine needs to work – sell, execute, manufacture, deliver – but it must also scale. Are you tied to particular customers or prospects, can you repeat the engineering processes, can you scale the manufacturing, can you deliver across geographies?

Identify who the right people are to first create the money making machine, to scale it, and then to run it at scale. These may be different people, and will certainly involve different approaches.

If one aspect of your core functions – finance, operations, sales – is stalling or, conversely, is firing on too much gas, it could impact the others. Each may hit blockers at different times and scale differently. Know what’s going on.

Sensitivity test your business model before adopting it. Vary the inputs and the assumptions, and ask “what will it take for this model to work?”. If your business model relies on utopia then it’s unrealistic. 

Company growth is a team effort

If you steer the business by gut instinct, arrange periodic business model reviews to provide a framework that may challenge your assumptions.

It’s usually not the business model that succeeds; but the people and their relationships.

Calculating commercial opportunity

Starting out as a services firm can give you the revenue needed to build out products without needing external cash. Service delivery lets you cross pollinate ideas, grow expertise and establish collaborations, and identify winning product concepts.

Consider how well your process and product will survive the technology transfer during any sale or acquisition. The product must survive due diligence if it’s to succeed.

Avoiding business growth pains

The grass isn’t always greener. Conceiving, marketing, developing and maintaining products comes with high commercial risk. Attempting to scale as a product business without prior planning and process, and cash, will expose unforeseen growing pains.

As a services firm, having a staffing model which survives the peaks and troughs of customer demand may save your lives. Plan for a flexible model which includes contract resource.

A growing business will reach natural people/sociological plateaus. Know that these are coming, that they will affect communications and governance, and plan for them. Ensure you already have the right people in the right positions.

Published by Andrew Gifford

Co-organiser of Threads South West. Founder/MD and people person at techfolk. Interested in the people aspects of running a progressive business.

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