Exponential change is the new normal.
New possibilities emerge every day: artificial intelligence is transforming the cancer diagnosis process, blockchain is redefining currency and commerce, and autonomous vehicles are rethinking the Singapore transportation landscape.
Change can be frightening. When tasked to implement business transformation strategy in APAC organisations, executives need to break out of linear thinking patterns to comprehend exponential changes and manage growth.
As a chief marketing officer, how can you prepare for and direct exponential change in your organisation?
Numerous exponential organisations have demonstrated growth in this volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous era. How to apply this to your business transformation model is not easy, but required to sustain an organisation amidst competition.
1. Identify a sizeable customer segment for your exponential business model
The father of business consulting, Peter Drucker, once said,“the purpose of business is to create a customer.” The core of any business should be the customer.
Your business’s customer size needs to be big enough for exponential value to be created.
The nature of your individual customers is also important and unique to the nature of your business. You may have a vast number of customers adopting a product with a viral quality, or a small number of enterprise clients seeking a six-figure investment. According to Jeff Desjardins of Visual Capitalist, building a successful and enduring company requires both a product that solves an urgent problem and the right amount of paying customers.
2. Analyze The Market Landscape and Determine Your Massive Transformative Purpose
Singularity University was the first to coin the term “Massive Transformative Purpose”, defined as a “‘highly aspirational tagline’ for an individual or group, such as a company, organisation, community, or social movement.”
Understand the market space or market gap you are playing in, and pinpoint your industry environment and ecosystem. This will show you why your business needs to exist, how it will solve a problem, and where your massive impact as an exponential organisation may potentially be.
Examples of compelling massive transformative purposes include TED’s iconic “Ideas Worth Spreading” and Google’s aim to “organise the world’s information”.
3. Define Your Exponential Goal
The stage your business is currently in will define how you can identify a suitable exponential goal.
Are you trying to get the word out for your business? Or is it time to close more deals? Are you looking to achieve exponential awareness, exponential acquisition, exponential revenue, or exponential profit?
Defining your current exponential goal will define the direction of your subsequent phases – exponential product, exponential people, and exponential processes.
4. Create Your Exponential Product
Once your massive transformative purpose and sizable customer segment are identified, what unique value can your company give customers through your product?
Value: New Exchange
On top of your unique selling proposition to new customers, work on facilitating new exchanges of value for your existing customers.
It should be translated into a scalable and addictive product.
Volume: Scalable Resources
Rent, share, or leverage selected resources instead of owning them, to reduce the need for management and lower costs.
Such resources may be information-based or algorithm-driven companies such as Google which scale in line with increases in information, at low cost.
AirBnB is an example of a company that leverages on existing resources without owning any assets, by simply handling high-volume short-term rental transactions with an effective algorithm.
Create an addictive idea that is memorable and spreads quickly. It can help exponentially increase the adoption of your product or the propagation of the idea it represents.
These are some principles behind addictive ideas:
|An addictive idea should:||Ask yourself:|
|Be simple||What is the essence of what you are trying to sell?|
|Have social currency||Does using your product make people look better to others?|
|Have a trigger||How can you associate your product with ideas or activities in people’s daily lives?|
|Be connected to current affairs||What are the current contexts or trends in people’s minds?|
|Be emotional||Does your product evoke awe, excitement, anger, or fear?|
|Have a story||What is the narrative behind your product?|
|Be public||How can you make the adoption of your product publicly copyable?|
|Have practical value||How is your product useful for people immediately?|
5. Find Your Exponential People
Individuals: Exponential & Multi-disciplinary
Exponential growth can only be driven by the exponential mindset of your team.
When it comes to how to implement change in the workplace, your focus should not only be to make something better, but also to make something different. This is possible when people are adaptable, and able to unlearn and relearn in an unfamiliar, complex, and changing environment.
Hire multi-disciplinary people (also known as polymaths) or diverse teams, who are best suited to venture into this unfamiliar territory. Polymaths gravitate towards such continual learning, while a diverse team brings in multiple perspectives to make sense of uncertainty within a single problem.
Culture: Collaborative & Autonomous
The culture and structure of the company should be open to enable socializing and collaboration between people. A frequent exchange of ideas among people can lead staff buy-in, growth, and organisational change.
Autonomy is also critical for employees to decentralize and speed up decision-making. In a healthy culture, decision-making is no longer limited by upper management, while growth can be actively powered by every employee.
6. Set Up Your Exponential Processes
Every business is different from others. So how your business grows exponentially will not be the same as others’.
Instead, your business can implement a pilot experimental process to determine the best way to drive growth in your company. The resulting processes cannot be static and rigid, as agility needs to be introduced into organisational systems.
Experimental processes help to evaluate a large number of bottom-up ideas. It can enable risk-taking with fast feedback loops by failing, learning and revising fast through mini experiments.
The ultimate goal of experimentation is to finally be able to systemize a predictable, repeatable, and scalable process for exponential growth.
Dropbox did not grow overnight but through arduous experimentation in its referral program. With a predictable and repeatable process, Dropbox grew exponentially after the systemisation of their growth idea.
The results will not be permanent. It is critical to keep running experiments to find different processes suited for various business stages and changing contexts.
Businesses need to realize and drive their transformative purpose, and evolve to survive in this exponential world.
We have to unlearn familiar mental models on an individual level before translating this unlearning process to an organisational level. Only then can we turn threats to business into real opportunities for exponential growth.
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Desjardins, Jeff. “Infographic: 5 Ways to Build a $100 Million Company.” Visual Capitalist, 9 Apr. 2018, www.visualcapitalist.com/5-ways-100-million-company/.
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