Growth IQ: A book review by Bob Morris

Growth IQ: Get Smarter About the Choices That Will Make or Break Your Company
Tiffani Bova
Portfolio/Penguin (August 2018)

How to achieve and then sustain “countercyclical” and profitable growth

Not all growth is progress, of course, and Tiffani Bova obviously understands that as she identifies and then examines ten paths, any one of which can lead a company to what she characterizes as “countercyclical” and profitable growth.

Business leaders face several challenges. One is deciding which of the ten paths to follow at any given time; the other is deciding when to shift to another path. For example, let’s say a one-truck garbage company in Chicago buys another truck to increase sales to residential clients. Next, it decides to add commercial clients and leases two more trucks. Then it diversifies further by repositioning itself as a waste removal company and adds several government clients and more vehicles. The company later expands into new markets (let’s say Milwaukee, Champaign/Urbana, and Springfield), and increases its workforce and fleet. You get the idea. As Bovi explains, companies need the right growth strategy to achieve profitable growth with initiatives “that focus the company on the task at hand to achieve the strategic growth goal.”

The title of one of Marshall Goldsmith’s recent books suggests that “what got you here won’t get you there.” In fact, I am convinced that what got you here won ‘t even allow you to remain here, however and wherever your “here” and (yes) “there” are defined.

The Growth IQ mindset suggests “you probably need to follow several different paths during your journey — usually on an as-needed, as-appropriate basis —  to achieve achieve and then sustain profitable growth. When tyo shift from one path to another? That’s a tough call, to be sure, but Bovi offers some excellent advice (see Pages 296-297). Foir example:

Path !: Customer Experience > Check Net Promoter Score (NTP)
Path 4: Product Expansion > Check New product usage, mix against current portfolio
Path 7: Churn (Minimize Defection) > Check rate and customer defection trends
Path 10: Unconventional Strategies > Volunteer hours of employees

As Bovi carefully explains, some organizations are stalled on the wrong path (e.g. Starbucks and Sears); others have leaders who make smart and courageous decisions (e.g. Netflix and Marvel). “Companies know they want to grow, but they get stuck on how they do it. Some will get caught in ‘analysis paralysis’ where they are spending way too much time analyzing the one right move instead of piloting a few things to see what works before making an effort to roll out strategies more broadly. Others try too many things at once, or believe the path they are on remains the best choice for years to come without taking the changing context into account.”

I really like how Bovi organizes and presents her material. a separate chapter devoted tki each of the ten paths within which she includes three “stories” and then a “Putting It All Together” section. This book can be the single most valuable source of information, insights, and counsel that business leaders need to get increasingly smarter about the choices that will make or break their business.

More than 30 years ago in Future Shock, Alvin Toffler, observed, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” Tiffani Bova challenges her readers to increase their understanding of HOW to create and sustain profitable growth. However, she first poses a much greater challenge: to develop a mindset that can overcome what James O’Toole so aptly characterizes as “the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom.”

This is book a brilliant achievement. Bravo!


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