What is Your Organization’s Growth Strategy

Supporting your organization’s growth strategy is a good way to accelerate your career progression.  Take the time to understand how opportunities are identified and funded in your area.  Then you can determine how to best add value to the process.  Association with successful growth and enterprise initiatives drives performance, enhances your image, and increases exposure to senior leaders.

While there are multiple growth strategy processes employed, I will highlight three common approaches using the reality television shows of Shark Tank, The Voice, and American Idol.  Which type do you recognize in your organization?


  1. Shark Tank – The Venture Capital Model

The Model

In this popular show, Start-up entrepreneurs pitch wealthy investors (Sharks), for funding.  Entrepreneurs share a 90-second pitch for their idea, what they believe it is worth, and how much of an ownership stake they are offering the Sharks.  After the initial pitch, the potential investors agree, or disagree with the valuation based on financial valuation techniques, their experience, and questions they ask.  The goal is to get one Shark to invest in your idea at a given price.

If this sounds like your organization, then it is using the venture capital model.  The growth strategy is to make investments in a number of ideas with the hope that one will be a “unicorn” – a start-up company with a value of over $1 billion.  Leaders don’t expect every idea to be a winner.  If 1 in every 10 is a huge hit, the strategy is working.

How You Add Value

In this type of organization, the ability take ideas from concept, to pilot, to initial launch is the key to success.  Often called “proof of concept” your goal is to show your idea works by getting paying customers.  Then pitching your idea and success to senior leaders who invest to scale your business.  Oral communication and storytelling skills are critical, so sharpen these skills.

  1. The Voice – The Large Organization Model

The Model

In this hit show, coaches first listen to singers, hearing only their voices, and select members to be on their team (blind auditions).   Once coaches’ teams are full, they pit team members against each other and select winners to advance (battle and knockout rounds).  Coaches then choose two team members to advance to the playoffs.  In the playoffs audience members vote for their favorites until we have a winner.

If this sounds like your work world, then it is using the large company model.  In an organization “Leaders” function as The Voice coaches.  The growth strategy is to pit teams (departments) against each other.  Large organizations often employ this model because it gives leadership the most control over the process and budget.

How You Add Value

In this type of organization, the ability to align yourself with the right department and leader are keys to success.  Leaders have immense power in this model.  Just like the coaches in The Voice, they can block you from joining other teams, steal you from other areas, and save your career if needed.  Demonstrating loyalty, delivering results, and navigating political waters are critical to your success. 

  1. American Idol – The Innovation Model

The Model

In this global sensation show, auditions take place in various cities across the country, where contestants perform a song of their choosing to a panel of screeners.  Screeners select people to perform in front of judges.  Judges select singers for Hollywood Week where they perform solo, in pairs, and groups.  The top 36 then compete on the live shows.  Each episode has a theme where singers are eliminated by judges and viewer votes until a winner is crowned.  The winner receives a record deal with a major label and a management contract.

If this sounds like your organization, then it is using the innovation model.  The growth strategy is to proactively search for talented people and ideas.   Ideas are co-designed with potential customers.  The goal is to improve products and services in a series of iterations over time.

How You Add Value

In this type of organization, the ability to work collaboratively, analyze customer needs, and understand markets on a deep level are keys to success.  Develop a reputation for developing people and their ideas.  

Implications for Talent Managers / Senior Leaders

There are clear implications depending on which model is used to foster growth:

  • Venture Capital Model – invest money to improve communication and business acumen skills of all colleagues. This ensures “The Sharks” make decisions based on the best ideas, not based on the best presentations.
  • Large Organization Model – invest significant money to improve the business acumen, decision making and employee development skills of leaders. The locus of power and resources rests with leaders.  Success will rise and fall with their ability.
  • Innovation Model – invest in creating a system for nurturing ideas and people at multiple levels of the organization. This is the most expensive model to run, but overwhelmingly produces the best people.  American Idol has produced several international music stars including Jennifer Hudson, Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, and Katharine McPhee.  The Voice stars…?  

Bottom Line

Analyze your organization to determine if it operates more like Shark Tank, The Voice, or American Idol.  Use this information to determine how you can best add value to accelerate your career progression.

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