The GrowBridge Process
The GrowBridge process enables a client-company to look objectively at its current situation and logically, methodically determine whether and how to grow. It also develops a common understanding, culture and communication around growth within the company. The process occurs in four sequential phases, each providing information for decisionmaking in the subsequent phase. Each phase includes detailed areas of investigation and uses well-established tools for understanding a company’s growth readiness and matching it to a growth strategy.
The GrowBridge Four Phase Toolkit
GrowBridge provides a consulting process and toolkit that guides companies that are growing or planning to grow significantly. The toolkit helps a company exploit its core capabilities to identify its growth engine (the primary driver of growth) and proactively manage the key internal challenges that could be limiting growth. Yes, growth is desirable – but expansion must be carefully considered and planned for. Even companies able to grow are well advised to take a step back due to their lack of a coherent plan or because the company isn’t able to scale and deal with volume and complexity.
The GrowBridge toolkit consolidates the lessons developed by its founder, Josh Hurewitz, through his consulting with dramatically growing companies for more than two decades. Those lessons grew from principles espoused by top-tier consulting companies. GrowBridge focuses on middle-market companies that exhibit characteristics of both small and large companies. Growth of middle-market companies is particularly challenging when many options for growth exist; to be successful, only a few of those options can be adequately resourced.
While each business environment is inherently unique, similar challenges face most growing companies. Some challenges might be recognized early and managed, while others are not recognized until they stress a company’s growth – with some of those stresses even leading to a company’s demise.
GrowBridge takes a multi-step approach to helping companies identify, understand and manage the primary internal limitations to growth. For example, funding growth and managing cash do not differ, in principle, from one company to another. Exactly how a particular company manages its cash, given its unique cash cycle, does require taking specifics into account.
Summary of GrowBridge’s four-phase process for growth
Growth Readiness Map
Tracking and Adjustment
|Pinpoint your growth engine and identify your existing weaknesses and stress points
|Develop a unified strategy that is the basis for an implementation plan. This allows you to compare your options rationally and select the right growth plan.
|Develop a growth plan with specific tasks, timing and responsibilities that prioritizes your activities for growth. This is based on the strategy selected in Phase II.
Establish tracking metrics for Phase IV
|Measure progress, using metrics and qualitative factors and adjust strategy or implementation as necessary.
|A Growth Readiness Map and recommendations for the potential growth engine for the company, plus identifying the biggest challenges to growth
|A range of alternative growth-strategy maps with clear tradeoffs and a prioritized list of the requirements to implement each strategy. Also, operational recommendations.
|Implementation plan with timelines, resources and all related details
|Ongoing evaluation of progress towards goals; consideration of plan changes
|GrowBridge questionnaires that provide some background, interviews & analysis (and possibly an off-site) that touches on seven key aspects of growth
|GrowBridge toolkit, processes, and the results from Phase I lead to co-development of growth strategy and alternatives/variations
Matches the internal core capabilities for growth with the market opportunity
|Prioritize and sequence tasks to be performed based on leverage, criticality, resource availability, sequential dependencies and projected change-management challenges
|Regular meetings focusing on measuring progress against the implementation plan
The Growth Readiness Map is a brief, affordable, high-level assessment of a company’s readiness to grow. GrowBridge will identify the growth engine (the primary driver of increased growth) and weaknesses in a company’s functional aspects that could become major challenges during an active growth phase.
- Three brief questionnaires related to strategy, growth and the nature of the organization are administered to top management.
- This is followed by one or two full days of a GrowBridge consultant’s one-on-one interviews with top management and designated staff and a company walk-around.
- After information from the questionnaires and the interviews are consolidated, a full-day off-site meeting with top management and a GrowBridge consultant is conducted to discuss early findings and to develop a deeper and broader understanding of the seven key aspects of growth necessary to develop a growth strategy.
Those seven aspects are:
• Defining growth and timing − measurable definitions of growth.
• Company-market alignment − What will the company provide to which market for the company to grow? Identify the growth engine.
• Strategy and business model − What is the plan for dealing with the complexity of volume while becoming more efficient?
• People, process and systems − How will the company’s management and staff, company processes and company computer systems, fit together? How should they be upgraded to optimize and support growth?
• Company assets to be leveraged − Which internal assets will power the growth engine of the company?
• Capital and financial management − Will cash limit growth, and how will it be managed?
• Change management − What are the human and communication obstacles to growth?
- The consultant consolidates relevant information from the off-site visit and other company sources and develops a Growth Readiness Map. The map suggests what the growth engine might be and highlights primary weaknesses that un-managed growth could expose.
- The GrowBridge consultant presents the Growth Readiness Map with recommendations for management to focus on to spur healthy growth.
- The presentation and discussion can be used as a basis for Phase II.
Duration: Up to 10 days.
Growth Management Strategy Development involves selecting one growth strategy. Though business leaders have many ideas about how they might like growth to proceed, many unstructured and unfocused efforts end up beingultimately unproductive. The challenge of growth is to make sure that the desired changes are coordinated throughout the organization. To be successful in growing dramatically, a range of disparate ideas that touch many aspects of the company must be boiled down to a well-thought-out, comprehensive strategy and then adopted in a step-by-step implementation plan that is communicated throughout the organization. Unless a plan is established and accepted and used as the basis for actions and repeatedly communicated, a growth effort will not only likely be marginally effective, but worse, could generate undesirable and unintended consequences. These include staff not being engaged because they do not have clarity and on how the growth plan involves them, and worse, they resist change because they sense personal risk, but do not see the personal benefit.
Selecting amongst potential growth engines is a primary activity and goal of this phase. The operational changes, resources required and organizational implications for each potential growth engine are outlined so that tradeoff decisions between growth strategies can be evaluated objectively and in a transparent manner.
This activity is guided by Phase I. Part of the activity will be to formulate alternative growth strategies and perform more in-depth analysis to understand each strategy in detail. While the GrowBridge toolkit is comprehensive, only some elements will be applied for each client. Standard elements include financial analysis, organizational reengineering and systems upgrades, but the primary focus will be on elements of the growth engine and factors related to stress points for growth.
The GrowBridge toolkit menu is a comprehensive list of items we deem critical to understand how to develop and execute a growth strategy. Not all of the toolkit’s menu items are immediately relevant in developing a growth strategy for a company at a particular juncture. In the initial stage, the client and consultant will determine which menu items are most relevant to assembling alternative growth strategies. Each menu item is a series of questions, an analysis or documentation of a process currently being performed or being proposed to be performed. Once the toolkit’s menu items are selected, GrowBridge will develop a preliminary plan for the client’s consideration.
GrowBridge will interview a company’s key staff or ask them to provide information or analysis. We also will ask leadership and management to invest their time and deep thought to perform some analyses to make strategic decisions.. The project’s timeline will reflect key staff’s investment of time and thought in the project.
Note: Because of the nature of discovery and analysis work, new information or ideas could affect the scope of the initial plan. Changes to the initial scope will be made only with the client’s approval.
Duration: 30/60/90 days
Generally, the length is determined by how divergent the alternative strategies are, how intensely the client wants to proceed, the time the client wishes to invest and the budget allocated. It is not possible to determine the length of this highly customized phase until the full scope is known.
The Implementation Plan turns the Phase II growth strategy into concrete tasks. It is where “the rubber meets the road” regarding activities for specified individuals to perform to implement the growth plan. This phase produces a highly refined project plan that will manage growth. Wherever possible, all activity will be tracked by the metrics with the appropriate level of detail. Phase III is a project plan that the company plans to execute.
By examining the strategy generated in Phase II, GrowBridge and the client will prioritize all major goals, tasks and subtasks. GrowBridge will develop a detailed plan to prepare for the transition from the current state to growth.
This phase will produce an implementation plan in the form of a Gantt chart. Ours will be a very specific plan, in which granular tasks assigned to individuals are completed over a predetermined period of time. Our plan for the client makes the change effort real and is a primary tool of management to effect change. Our plan generally creates a new reality within the company. If management uses it appropriately, our plan can be a primary communication tool within the company.
Duration: 5-10 days
Phase IV is when change actually happens. The thinking, deciding and planning enable the outcome: doing new things and doing some things differently.
Phase IV is where wel track the Phase III plan for progress and adjust it if a modification is required. We will produce metrics to directly or indirectly track progress; the metrics will be the basis for measuring successes and determining possible course corrections if insurmountable obstacles become apparent.
Generally, this is a scheduled, programmed activity in which the company reports on progress and highlights challenges. GrowBridge will conduct weekly reviews early in the phase, then monthly reviews as appropriate.
Once internal changes take hold and growth is accommodated, we might deem it necessary to look seriously at other internal operations that are emerging as beginning to show signs of stress.
Phase IV is critical to ultimate success. Many plans are developed and some are implemented. Of those implemented, some are sustained for only short periods of time. Phase IV is designed to maintain momentum in a productive direction.