An External Focused Culture Drives Sustainable Growth


In 2013 the National Center for the Middle Market did research on how middle-market companies (which they define as between $10M and $1B) did with growth into, through, and out of the Great Recession of 2008/9. Less than 1% of the companies they studied grew into and through the recession and doubled growth coming out of it. They called these companies Sustained Growers.


Five Key Dimensions of Sustained Growers

Through their research, they found five key dimensions where Sustained Growers differentiated themselves from the rest.


They are:

  • Vision

  • Innovation

  • Market Expansion

  • Internal Processes

  • Talent.


When I first read these, it struck me that these were almost identical to the Characteristics of a Market-Driven Organization as defined by George Day in his Market Driven Strategy and Market-Driven Organization books.


Characteristics of a Market-Driven Organization

Through his research, George Day found that Market-Driven organizations were 31% more profitable than inward-focused companies due to increased success in taking ideas to market, higher prices through delivering more value, and often first-mover advantage.


He found that these Market-Driven Organizations shared five common characteristics:


  • Strong leadership commitment to growth and an externally focused culture.

  • Superior ability to anticipate changing market requirements and target innovation to effectively drive growth.

  • Better able to identify and keep its existing profitable accounts and understand the opportunity from new markets.

  • The coherence of structure and systems focused on the customer value.

  • Satisfied employees are both a cause and consequence of growth.


Sustained Growers are Market-Driven

It is pretty close to a perfect match. Sustained Growers are Market-Driven. Look at how well they are aligned.


Vision can be expressed as a strong leadership commitment to growth and an externally focused culture.


Innovation can be expressed as a superior ability to anticipate changing market requirements and target innovation to effectively drive growth.


Market Expansion can be expressed as being better able to identify and keep its existing profitable accounts and understand the opportunity from new markets.


Internal Processes can be expressed as a coherence of structure and systems focused on the customer value.


And Talent can be expressed as satisfied employees that are both a cause and consequence of growth.


It is pretty simple; Sustained Growers are Market Driven with an externally focused culture.


If you are interested in digger deeper into each of these, you can find Pathways to Growth from the National Center for the Middle Market at https://www.middlemarketcenter.org/research-reports/pathways-growth-mid-market-performance-strategies# and George Day’s Market Driven Organization at https://amzn.to/2UIHJts.

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