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Future | Institute for Real Growth

Future | Institute for Real Growth

Growth leaders see human-centric future

Opportunities exist—in uncomfortable places

During the postwar boom of the last six decades, many businesses relied on scale and efficiency tactics to sustain their growth, but these patented processes are starting to fail as companies run out of new markets to enter and superfluous expenditures to cut. Moreover, an increasingly knowledgeable and conscientious customer base is challenging licenses to operate, and disruptors are tearing down barriers to entry and bypassing well-established niches and intermediaries. No source of growth is guaranteed anymore.

However, growth still exists—albeit in uncomfortable places. By exploring unexpected partnerships, embracing specialty brands, and implementing new business models, forward-thinking marketers have already sketched out a new growth trajectory. But this is only the beginning: to continue delivering sustained top-line growth, companies must reject the tired formulas of the past and develop an architecture for “Real Growth.”

These are among the key findings of the Institute for Real Growth, a global thought leadership initiative of WPP, Kantar, and partners from leading businesses across categories and academic institutions. Based on interviews with over 500 business leaders, a survey of 1,500 respondents, and an analysis of hundreds of topical studies, IRG’s recent study revealed that companies already delivering “Real Growth’ act very differently than underperformers. Top-line results indicate:

  1. Growth leaders reimagine what they offer and what markets they sit in. They assess market developments and take a wide-angle lens that leaves no growth source unexplored. They optimize what works while identifying and embracing new business models. They build in-house innovation labs and explore unexpected acquisition possibilities. They then use these perspectives and capabilities to deliver unique, ever-evolving experiences, embracing the fact that customers are always beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied rather than chasing ephemeral customer satisfaction.

  1. Overperformers rethink how they organize themselves. They rewrite cultural scripts, loosening the bonds of procedure and structure in favor of innovation, entrepreneurship, connectivity and diversity among decision-makers. They then carry these cultures into their organizational structure. And, they foster whole-brain teams to produce whole-brain insights, combining creativity, data, and technology to innovate where others are complacent.

  1. Leaders challenge assumptions about why they do what they do. Rather than prioritizing profit, they accept that real growth stems from a human-centric approach: they focus on tangibly benefitting their customers, their colleagues, and their communities. They recognize that a market definition, consumer experience, or organizational culture or structure, no matter how innovative, can and will be adopted by competitors after it demonstrates success. To stand out in an authentic and inspiring way, growth leaders go a step beyond and tie their ambitions to something truly meaningful.

While these principles form a strong base for future growth, they are not enough on their own. The IRG study has shown that real change will not happen in an organization that only sees these principles as feel-good slogans or temporary solutions—to make sure they become more, leaders across functions must take a stand, demonstrating humility, passion, courage, and a willingness to empower their teams.

(For more information about IRG, please visit www.instituteforrealgrowth.com)