Hi-growth ventures need close support
Backers, investors and partners are essential supporters for these businesses, says the Barclays Scale-up Report – and experienced new-business leaders, says another.
The Barclays Scale-up Report, just published, has focused on paths to success for early-stage hi-growth businesses. So what support will help them most to achieve successful growth?
A recent report conducted by Deloitte Denmark and Board Network – The Danish Professional Directors Association, called “Radical Innovation and Growth: Global Board Survey 2016 ” opens up concerns about the current boardroom and its great difficulty with managing more radical innovation.
It suggests that there is a need for greater insight into the area of innovative initiatives, grappling with organisational design, dealing with risk and failure, and for sheer experience in working in the huge discomfort zone driven by accelerating technology.
The Barclays Report portrays the problems of scaling up in terms of a series of challenges that businesses need to recognise and handle at the right moment – as they start up, take off, and accelerate into sustained growth, in particular:
- aiming high – ambition
- building a strong team
- establishing partnerships
- putting effective management systems into place
- identifying core competences, and
- articulating competitive strengths and new market opportunities.
While there may seem little new in these challenges, several of the recommendations emphasise the role of stakeholders in supporting scale-ups; and the research illustrates the importance of two factors: the timeliness and firmness with which the relevant issues are tackled; and the value of support in doing so.
The Report refers repeatedly to the functions of the Board, and implies a need for board members who are both involved and active, and for a board that meets frequently, with an eye more on the future than the past.
It underlines the importance of frequent and regular reviews of directions, resources and progress, including ‘strategic activities and partners’. (Telefonica’s Wayra Lab mandates a ‘board’ meeting once a month, as do many companies).
The Barclays Report emphasises the importance of including in this process backers, investors and partners (and the Deloitte Report would add: experienced new- business leaders) to bring to bear a range of perspectives on the issues under discussion – especially as regards technology and competition.
And a focus at board meetings on the future helps to underline the importance of ambition, progress, opportunity and the evolution of the business, but also on the imminence of change.
John Whatmore, May 2016
A board agenda (based on the recommendations in the Scale-up Report)
- Are our current targets and plans based on ambitions that are high enough.
- What do we now need to do to position the skills and abilities of our team for achieving the growth that we envisage.
- Do we need to change our partners and suppliers so that they accord more closely with our strategic objectives.
- Are we satisfied with the level of and plans for the standardisation of our systems and processes.
- Have we identified and can we articulate our core competences – the unique knowledge that underlies our capability to compete.
- Are our competitive strengths in the eyes of our customers related to our processes and knowledge; and are they the foundation of our strategy.