The Planting Stage: Seeding for Growth in Your Business

by | Nov 28, 2022 | Growth Acceleration, Scaling and Acceleration

The Map for Seeding for Growth

In our last blog, we introduced a new map to help identify where your company is and a path to more quickly get to where you want to go. The map identified the six destinations of companies from Start Up to Legacy.  These six are:  Planting, Drowning, Grinding, Scattering, Evolving, and Transcending.

As we unfolded the new map, we identified that each destination had its own signs, paths, obstacles, and states of heart.  At a 30,000-foot view, below is what the destination of the Planting Stage looks like: 

In this blog, we want to go deeper.  We will drill down into “Planting” to help it come to life. 

In subsequent blogs, we plan to go deeper on each of the other five states, identifying their signs, paths, and obstacles in detail.  

The Planting Stage:  The Obstacles and the Paths 

The Planting Stage is a destination that can take place at both new and mature companies.  Companies that are in Planting have a certain energy and excitement about them.  

Planting for Growth Starts with Ideas

In newer companies, such as start-ups, the energy is often driven by the creativity and desire of a founder, or co-founder.  While working with a number of very creative founders, it was discovered that they loved being in “planting” mode and coming up with ideas.  In one case, the founder believed so much in cultivating ideas, that he had a daily morning practice of sitting down for one hour with the goal of coming up with 10 new ideas.  His goal was to strengthen his creativity muscle, while expanding the number of possible business opportunities.  

In a similar fashion, many mature organizations look to innovate.  They, too, are looking to generate ideas, but it often takes a different form.  It is more common to see them launching an innovation initiative or an innovation team.  While these more mature companies don’t have people sit for an hour every morning like the start-up founder earlier—the goal is the same— to surface new ideas and opportunities.

Ideas to Execution: 

Ideas and opportunities that create a positive impact for customers and the company bring anticipation, hope, and excitement. Taking that energy, harnessing it, and executing are key steps.  Without energy, focus, and execution, the opportunities likely die.  

However, having all three elements does not ensure success.  The challenge is that not every idea has the same potential.  Along with that challenge, many organizations do not have the resources to pursue multiple major initiatives.  These challenges can set up organizations to face obstacles or traps that need to be navigated.  Here are three common obstacles and their symptoms.  

Obstacle 1:  The Innovation or Creativity Trap

The first obstacle we will explore relates to the creativity or innovation process.  Remember the founder that generated 10 new ideas a day?  It had both a positive and a negative impact to his company.  The list of possibilities was long.  The Creativity Trap is not narrowing the creative efforts in a way to create direction and focus.  

Creativity Trap Symptoms:

How can you tell if you have fallen into the Creativity Trap?  For software companies, one behavior is the development team being given one priority, one week, and a different one the next.  Has this every happened in your company?

Obstacles 2:  Action Bias Trap

A second obstacle that companies can fall into is an Action Bias.  “Nothing happens until someone takes action” is true— but, action for action’s sake can be a trap.  

Action Bias Symptoms:

Organizations having a high action bias often have every initiative be “critical” or “high priority.”  This often leads to “goals overload” – where the same staff member(s) are engaged in multiple critical projects.  Crucial resources are booked beyond capacity, if this is not managed, and nothing gets done.  

Obstacle 3:  Market Assumption Trap

We have all heard “fail early, fail often.” It is a good mantra, but it is important to consider when in the process you are reaching failure.  Understanding what has been validated and when is key to “failing fast.”

Market Assumption Trap Symptoms:

Many companies have a desire to get to market quickly.  A common symptom of this trap is when products are developed, brought to a broad market, and struggle to be sold.  Often there has been little or no validation with the market.  What problem are we solving?  How valuable is that solution to them?  How does it stack up with other priorities they may have?

Impacts of the Obstacles and Traps

Each one of these obstacles can lead to tangible negative impacts on a company.  Below are some of the common impacts to the organizations that have fallen into these traps.

  • Confusion and Frustration:  With too many ideas and changing priorities, the excitement and potential of the new initiative turns into staff frustration or confusion.  Feeling like they cannot give their best, employees often either disengage or determine the priority they feel makes the most sense.  The outcome in both cases is low throughput, misaligned priorities, and poor execution.
  • Staff Burn-Out:  Organizations that focus on too many things at one time run the risk of burning out their staff.  Employee tenure, turn-over, and project languishing can be seen. Without a break or interval in sight, the staff can run out of steam.
  • Low Sales Success:  All the traps noted above can lead to low sales results.  If the sales staff is unclear on priorities, it will lose focus.  When there are too many things to “chase,” few will get the attention needed.  If a solution has not been vetted, and the value proposition is not clear, sales will struggle.  

Paths to move from idea to results:

Path 1: Vetting Process:

One way to channel the energy and focus to combat all the traps is to have a discipline for prioritizing and vetting ideas on the front end.  This should be done with a small group, versus an all-hands-on deck approach.

Determine which ideas have potential merit and deserve resources.  The first step is taking the time to create a hypothesis of what you believe the idea or opportunity is worth.  Putting together the draft of a Business Canvas for each idea will help bring clarity and focus on which have the most potential.  

Path 2: Voice of the Customer

Once an idea or small group of ideas has bubbled to the top, it is time to start to validate your hypothesis by looking at the market.  The goal is to first understand what solutions exist to solve the problem identified; and how the solution is different from others in the market.  It is also a time to gain clarity on who the ideal target market is, and the solutions’ potential impact to them. 

To test your idea effectively, you must have a hypothesis to test.  The validation will come from the conversations.  That sounds simple enough, but there is a key obstacle to face in the phase— bias.   

While this may sound counter-intuitive, the goal when getting feedback is to “punch holes” in what you believe, rather than confirm your beliefs.  This is a key to “failing fast.”  As humans, we like acceptance and want to hear that our idea is good.  If we are not careful, we can hear what we want to hear, rather than listening for the true feedback.  

A good rule of thumb would be to target 10 – 30 conversations to gain feedback. And in addition, to determine if the idea makes it to any next steps, or is stopped.

Path 3: Multi-pronged Market Approach

Validating your idea with prospects should give you a natural opportunity to have them be part of a beta, or test.  The beta, if structured for it, gives you a great method for collecting data, stories, and validation you can use to take to the market.  The information gathered will also provide insight on the buyer journey.  Understanding the key piece of information your buyer needs will help in constructing what and how you bring the idea to the market.

Path 4: Sales Process and Method Development

The market approach above will provide a clearer path for when and how Sales engages with a prospect.  A very important step is to figure out how your identified targets buy.  Depending on the solution, price point, and sales cycle, having a way to engage the prospect in multiple ways and channels will be important to sales success.

Planting Stage Success:

The Planting Stage is a critical destination for companies that are looking to grow.  It can be exciting and bring out great energy in the organization.  It is important to follow a discipline and process that enables ideas to be vetted, fail fast, and move from idea to execution.  Just like farming, it is a lot of work up front – but if done consistently and well, it can bring a great harvest.

He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, but he who pursues vain things lacks sense.

Proverbs 12:11


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