Forbes: Three Growth Lessons Large Companies Should Learn From Smaller Organizations

Congratulations to our WPO members that were mentioned in this article. 

Business strategy is broken. More than 50 percent of senior executives don’t believe they have a winning strategy according to research from PwC’s Strategy&, the firm’s strategy consulting business. Running a large organization today can be daunting – facing new competitive threats, trying to make quarterly targets and struggling to differentiate in the market. It’s not that companies don’t have strategies; most do. It’s that they struggle to execute against them, an all-too-common challenge many refer to as the strategy to execution gap.

The most successful companies find unconventional ways to bridge that gap, and while there is much to learn from the large companies that do this best, there is also a wealth of knowledge to be uncovered by taking notice of the strategies and practices of smaller companies. Why? Lack of resources, one of the greatest challenges many small businesses face, also provides an opportunity to work on the things that are most important for their success and survival.

For example, it is common for large companies to rely on reorganizations to drive change, assuming that moving people and processes around will eventually yield success. Yet strong, positive culture – even more than operating models and incentives – can push organizations to identify and build unique capabilities that are true to an organization’s identity.

“There is a huge correlation between culture and brand,” said Sandy Marsico, founder and CEO of marketing firm Sandstorm. “You can’t have a brand saying they’re an innovator and a culture of fearing to fail.”

At Sandstorm, the company’s “warrior spirit” culture promotes the idea that no colleague or client is ever left alone when solving a problem. It naturally encourages employees to be collaborators and champions of each other as well as the firm’s clients, while in turn establishing the firm’s response time and dedication to each other as one of the company’s unique capabilities.

“We too often think of strategy and execution as two different topics,” said Paul Leinwand, author of Strategy That Works and global managing director of capabilities-driven strategy and growth for PwC’s Strategy&. “Companies need to make sure strategies are executable in order to grow and create sustainable competitive advantage.”

The Strategy That Works book is the culmination of years of research exploring how companies such as Amazon, Apple, CEMEX, Danaher, Frito-Lay and others are able to continuously build winning strategies. These companies take an unconventional approach to growth, leadership and strategy that sets them apart from other organizations.

In many ways, they are able to operate more like small and mid-size companies, which allows them to avoid common growth and strategy pitfalls. They take control of their own destiny by committing to an identity, translating the strategic into the everyday, putting their culture to work and cutting costs to grow stronger.

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