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Les McKeown's Predictable Success Blog

First published December 21, 2010

Where to find step growth in 2011 

Yesterday I asked you to consider how you wanted to grow in 2011 – by step growth, linear growth, or a combination of both.For the next few days, I want to share the main reasons I see businesses fail to achieve step growth, and from that, maybe help you determine which route is best for you (by the way, what I’ll share is equally appropriate to a business, division, department, project, group, team or a career, for that matter).

Here’s the first reason most organizations fail to achieve step growth:

Senior management doesn’t know where to get it from.

Seems strangely stark to put it that way, but it’s true: many business founders and managers simply don’t know where to find the initial catalyst for step growth.

Where does this incremental ‘step up’ come from?

Well, in a brave move to make this blog post a contender for the ‘flash of the bleeding obvious’ award, the answer comes from an acronym that will be recognized by anyone who has snoozed through a strategic planning course: PESTLE.

Typically, step growth comes from an underlying change in Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal or Environmental factors in the business environment. (New tax laws create new financial planning products every year; invading Iraq created whole new industries in the area of private sector military support; the recent economic decline creates new opportunities for cost-effective producers; the iPhone launched an entire app industry; green initiatives make formerly niche tastes popular – you get the idea.)

Now of course, you can read lots more about PESTLE on the interwebs, but that wouldn’t be my main point.

What I want to convey is this: if you don’t naturally think in terms of identifying and exploiting shifts in your business environment, then you’ll find it hard to deliver step growth in your business. Start instead by developing your ability to become aware of (and validate) the existence of PESTLE-generated market gaps.

A couple of good books to start with (not affiliate links) are Seeing What’s Next by Clayton Christensen (in fact, almost anything by him) and Seizing the White Space: Business Model Innovation for Growth and Renewal by Mark W. Johnson. (Feel free to make more suggestions in the comments below.)

Tomorrow: Why most step growth initiatives fail.

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