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Are you maximising your potential for organic growth?

According to the Cambridge Dictionary the definition of organic is: 'Happening or developing naturally over time, without being forced or planned by anyone'.


So if we’re looking for organic growth as leaders we can sit back and watch our businesses grow like magic before our very eyes…

Perhaps not.

With good foundations in place a business will undoubtedly experience organic growth to some degree. But planting the right seeds, nourishing the potential, and cultivating the progress will see your business truly thrive.

According to a survey from McKinsey the most successful firms follow more than one path to achieve organic growth and give time to developing the right capabilities to support it.

But in the same survey they found that most companies choose to focus on just one strategy as their primary push for organic growth.


Three paths to organic growth

McKinsey’s survey of around 600 leading global businesses they found three main paths to organic growth.


Perhaps the most obvious route is to channel investment into the parts of your business that are performing well. To do this the funds need to be found from making efficiencies elsewhere in the business – less profitable parts or less essential parts like administrative costs. McKinsey gives a real-world example of this approach in Zara, who found a winning model in its rapid-fashion program and grew by relentlessly investing in it.


Creators grow by designing and pushing out new products, services, or business models. And crucially they do it based on data and customer insights that enable them to identify the right opportunities. But as McKinsey add ‘Creators don’t just rely on data, of course. To really understand their customers, they use design thinking—customer empathy, ethnography, in-person observation—to identify and act on unmet needs’. Adobe is a great example of creators – with their development of the Creative Cloud and a new model where customers get all Adobe products for an ongoing fee.


We’ve never had more data and analytics at our fingertips and with that comes opportunity to improve performance across all areas. Getting on top of performance can help you optimise core commercial capabilities in sales, marketing, and customer experience. A good example of a business using performance to grow are Capital One. They use advanced customer data to track and talk to microsegments of customers and tailor products to them.


Why have one path to success when you can take all three?

If you’re looking to maximise your organic growth three paths are better than one. The ‘top growth’ businesses in the survey were more likely to be pursuing a more diversified approach to growth.

In a rapidly changing landscape relying on ‘organic’ growth in the truest sense probably won’t cut it.

As McKinsey put it: ‘Digital has changed the nature of growth by rapidly accelerating the pace of business… companies that are most successful at driving growth are those that can execute across multiple dimensions and inject speed, agility, and analytics into their corporate DNA.’

No two growth journeys are the same but if you want to make the most of opportunities focusing your strategy around the three tenets of invest, create, perform are a great place to start.