What’s it about?
Rapid Growth, Done Right (2020) sets out a plan for guiding an organization’s focus on growth. It reveals how a symbiotic relationship among creative, technical, and business minds is required for success. To attain this success as a leader, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with each of these different areas, communicate fluently, and inspire innovation.
About the author:
Val Wright is an internationally known innovation and leadership expert. She has worked with many Fortune 500 companies as a growth accelerator, including Microsoft, Financial Times, Amazon, and the LA Lakers. She’s also the author of Thoughtfully Ruthless (2016), named best business book by the NYC Big Book Awards and Independent Press Awards.
Leaders that aim to acheive successful growth create symbiotic relationships between creative, technical, and business minds:
Imagine how would a corporate HQ be running right now. You take a look at the design department and see the creative minds immersed in their latest ideas. Meanwhile, in the technical departments, the computer geniuses are busy turning those ideas into actual products. On the other hand, the business department is making sure everything adds up.
You notice that it’s like each department is speaking a whole different language. Each one is deeply submerged in its planet. however, for a modern business to achieve real growth, different languages don’t get you anywhere, no matter how invested and talented each department is. The components of a growth-focused organization should work together symbiotically. Their work should be harmonized, and your job, the leader, is to facilitate this process.
A successful business will be able to unite all its components seamlessly. If their creative department dominates the work, their ideas might not be profitable. If business minds take control, on the other hand, creativity will collapse, their groundbreaking ideas might fail to see the light of day. That’s why a leader needs to be trilingual and support and strengthen the relationship between creative, technical, and business minds.
Take Jeff Bazos as an example, Amazon’s founder. Even though his strong suit is clearly his sharp business mind, he speaks technical and creative languages fluently. To mimic his success, you need to own three key behaviors.
First, become a questioner. This might seem obvious, but constant questioning is essential if you seek to understand things out of your expertise’s range.
Second, empathy is vital. In order to understand people’s different skills and perspectives on a deep level, you need to be able to get inside their minds. Of course, you shouldn’t let go of your authenticity and personal vision, but as a leader, you have to put yourself in other individual’s views. Learning to emphasize with them will teach you their language.
And finally, you should learn how to translate context. This means the ability to articulate concepts and ideas to different people in a way that relates to them. For instance, you might need to demonstrate why a business goal matters to the graphic departments.
Five ways to enhance your creative mind:
As we’ve seen, a symbiotic relationship between various sorts of talent is critical to a company’s success. You must have a thorough understanding of each of these different components in order to create this type of relationship.
Let’s start with the creative side of things. Perhaps creativity doesn’t come easily to you if you’re more of a business-oriented person. Maybe when you listen to artists or designers talk about their work, it all goes over your head. You’ll have to work on your own creative side to learn to think like creatives and connect with them. Fortunately, there are ways to achieve that.
The question is, how do you embrace a creative mentality? Right off the bat, you can try new ways in which you stimulate your inventiveness. If you’re not used to being creative, it may seem unusual, but simple things like writing with a new pen, sitting at a different table, or taking a different route to work can all help to awaken your creative side. You’ll shake things up and access your creativity by trying something new.
The next step is to become acquainted with your company’s brand, design, and user interface. How does this imply in terms of application? Well, you might wonder what your logo stands for or how your website appears to consumers. You could explore why your company’s design team chose that aesthetic over another. Furthermore, you must establish your own opinions. This is a pretty direct path that gets you closer to your creative side.
After that, follow in the footsteps of creative colleagues and observe their work closely. You’ll be able to witness how much effort goes into their projects, allowing you to empathize with them. This way, the next time you reject or criticize one of their ideas in a meeting, you’ll be much more understanding and generous.
Attending marketing events where creatives are displaying their work is also a good idea. You’ll be able to learn more about what makes their eyes sparkle and how they feel about their accomplished work.
Finally, keep up with innovative business gurus on the internet or through other forms of media. This will expose you to different viewpoints and force you to step outside of your comfort zone. You’ll be able to develop a deeper symbiotic relationship throughout your own company by getting closer to the creative side of the business.
Four ways to improve your technical mind:
As a leader, you want to develop your creative knowledge, just as you’ll want to improve your technical understanding. For many people, though, technology is where things get particularly complicated. Even the most tech-savvy among us can be overwhelmed by topics like artificial intelligence, advanced robotics, and machine learning. However, just like creativity, there are things you can do to enhance your technical side.
So, what exactly do you have to do? For starters, when listening to a sophisticated technological explanation, ask for a metaphor. Suppose someone was trying to explain what a “smart contract” is, a type of computerized contract that’s an essential part of decentralized finance. Instead of explaining all of the nuances, that person may employ a simple visual and suggest that a smart contract works in a similar way to a vending machine: You meet your side of the bargain, and so does the vending machine – no need for a third party.
Finding a technical mentor is another excellent step. Someone well-versed in the subject will offer you a head start, as he will be able to teach you key terms and explain how complex systems work. When you’re in a board meeting or interacting with customers, and the subject turns to technology, this will come in handy. In a circumstance like that, you don’t want to appear inexperienced.
It can also be beneficial to attend technical product design reviews and product development meetings. This will allow you to become more familiar with the language and issues being discussed. And it’s at these sessions that you’ll be able to see how you might connect your company’s many departments.
Finally, just as you should shadow people on your creative team, you should shadow those on your technical team as well. It would help if you asked to accompany them on a day that will give you the most representative experience of their environment to get a better grasp of what they do genuinely. There’s no better way to get to know someone and develop empathy for them than to walk in their shoes for a day.
Five ways to sharpen your business mind:
The business side is the final component of the trilingual puzzle. If you’re visiting a different country, it’s usually a good idea to learn some of the local language to avoid losing out on important information. Learning the vocabulary of your business operations is beneficial for the same reason.
You may believe you’ve mastered this side of things as a business leader, but there will always be parts you don’t understand, especially regarding intricate economics. Let’s have a look at some ways to increase your business skills in this area.
First and foremost, you should become familiar with the essential business metrics for your corporation or division. Create a dictionary for your team. For example, you can add sales revenue for a specific product line or client retention for another company division. Whatever the case may be, you must understand which business indicators are most relevant to you.
After that, go over your company’s annual report, earnings report, or quarterly financial updates in detail. Even better, review these materials with someone who knows what they’re dealing with – a financial expert or a leader. While you’re doing this, ask this person to check your understanding to ensure that you’re not missing anything.
Learning to estimate financial results is the third step. This entails linking everything that happens in your company to a measurable financial outcome, such as sales, profits, and market share. This will assist you in thinking like a financial department employee.
Fourth, watch shows like CNBC’s Squawk Box every morning and heed global, industry, and competitive news to learn how to speak like the most refined business executives. Pay attention to how a top CEO speaks whenever he is being interviewed. Take note of how he simplifies and frames his responses so that viewers may absorb his message efficiently.
Lastly, you should shadow relevant people, just like you should with the other areas of a company. Learn the ins and outs of customer service, sales, financial planning, and supply chain operations. You’ll not only learn everything there is to know about the company, but you’ll also be able to understand where financial advantages can be made in terms of higher profits or abilities.
An off-site brainstorming event is a great approach to come up with multimillion-dollar expansion ideas:
Let’s imagine you’ve succeeded in creating a positive relationship among your company’s various skills. The next step is to use all of these various minds to brainstorm fantastic growth ideas. To do this, you may follow the author’s lead and organize a large off-site event where you can elicit the greatest ideas from throughout the organization.
First, You’ll need a nice setting for this experience. You should choose an uncommon and surprising location to inspire your guests, such as a distant nature reserve or a sleepy village. This will inspire people to step beyond their comfort zones and ignite their creativity.
After that, carefully select your guests. Choose people who can bring new ideas to the table, not just those who hold important positions. Bring in a diverse range of expertise from both inside and outside the organization, spanning the creative, technical, and business sides.
Then, organize the event around a primary issue that will drive the conversation, such as “How do we expand the product’s appeal?” Prepare guests ahead of time to get them into the spirit of things. This may include handing out goody bags with appropriate presents or showing relevant media clips before the event. You’ll need to focus on the best ideas as they start to flow. For example, you could include a thumbs-up/thumbs-down session to trim things down to the top five ideas.
Then, once you’ve narrowed down the top ideas, it’ll be time for those in charge to present to a panel. You should encourage individuals to debate generally about the possibilities, customer experience, and whether or not the idea could withstand competition, rather than taking a narrow, spreadsheet-based approach. Encourage them to begin by looking at the overall picture rather than the details.
It’s critical to have a reality check and a moment of reflection after all of the creative energy. Before you get carried away with a brilliant-sounding idea, be sure you have the correct team in place and that others at the company share your vision. Actually, this is the most crucial aspect of the entire process – don’t let all that mental energy go to waste!
The survival of any growth idea requires a leader in a strong position:
Well, you’ve finally gotten all of your company’s departments on the same page. Finance stands in the hand of the graphics department. Everyone is listening to the IT developers as they describe their ideas. All of them are bursting with productive energy. However, if you don’t have enough power and credibility in your business, you won’t guide and channel those good ideas. They’ll all be in vain.
Numerous examples demonstrate the importance of a well-respected leader. In 2010, Microsoft was working on a touch-screen tablet code-named Courier a year before the first iPad was launched. It had the potential to be a huge success for Microsoft. However, because a powerful leader did not lead the project, then-CEO Steve Ballmer opted to put the project on hold. The conclusion here is that if you want to generate excellent growth ideas at your company, you need to be in a strong position to deliver them to victory.
To reinforce your position, pay attention to the people who have the most impact on your career, the Power Influencers, Amplifiers, and Partners. Let’s start with the Power influencers. Those would be the folks who, with a single stroke of a pen, can make or break your career. They decide whether or not you will be promoted, for example. However, you shouldn’t approach them directly. They’ll be preoccupied with too many more important things, and hounding them for a meeting will most likely backfire.
That’s why you should focus most of your efforts on the people who have the most influence over them – Amplifiers. Amplifiers are high-ranking individuals with whom you already have a tight relationship and who also have the ear of the Power influencers. Amplifiers, out of the three categories of people here, will provide you the best return on your efforts.
Last but not least, there are your Partners. These are the people you interact with regularly. If you look at your journal, you’ll notice that they take up the majority of your time. As a result, you’re probably not devoting enough time to the Amplifiers who can help you strengthen your position. That’s why you should make time in your schedule for people that will actually benefit you.
By increasing your influence and solidifying your position, you’ll be able to transform your company into the symbiotic, growth-hungry machine it should be.