In our experience, mature industrial companies often have an incredibly narrow and pre-determined view of their customer. For industries that are steeped in quality, precision, and minimising risk – the process of becoming a ‘Future Now’ organisation can be an anathema.
Yet – by embracing the Future Now and Experimental mindsets, leaders can unlock a wellspring of energy with a new type of customer engagement and accelerate the development of differentiated products and new revenue five-ten times faster than industry norms. When these mindsets start to take root – remarkable transformation begins.
A great case study that proves this is our success with IMI. By 2018, IMI, an industrial-era organisation, with a proud 160-year heritage, was looking to generate extraordinary growth. Since 2018, we’ve helped IMI build a growth engine, called Growth Hub, that by 2021 had produced four exponential growth start-ups that generated 21 million GBP of new bookings from a standing start, on average taking 18 months to achieve their first 1 million GBP of sales. IMI’s margin increased from 14% in 2017 to 20% in 2021, and it confidently expects its new ventures in the Growth Hub to generate at least 40 million GBP in 2022.
Roy Twite had seen the transformational impact of our work on mindset amongst Halma’s 45 CEOs, another engineering group, where he sat as a non-executive director. At the time, he headed up one of IMI’s three divisions, IMI Critical Engineering and he invited us to run an experiment to test our approach.
We started in London with a workshop for 60 of his most senior leaders and high performers. Over three days, we immersed them in the Future Now and Experimental playbook and mindsets and co-designed experiments to see if they could find customer problems in high-growth markets and start to develop solutions that could grow faster than they had in the past. They had three months before pitching back as start-ups vying for investment. In three months, they talked to hundreds of customers and started on the journey to building a new level of market connectivity that had been absent for many years.
Today, Roy Twite is IMI’s CEO and the pilot has matured, across its three divisions, into growth accelerators that are transforming the company’s future.
We work as Entrepreneurs in Residence, mentoring the system and helping the mindset become embedded into the culture. Activities move through four phases using rapid test and learn methods to track megatrends, discover customer problems in attractive markets, establish product-market fit and then scale if a detailed set of growth and risk/uncertainty criteria are met. A major culture change programme to foster growth mindsets has meant that test and learn thinking is percolating into value today. In addition, the company is building a web of global relationships into the start-up and digital eco-systems, providing access to otherwise difficult-to-access talent, knowledge, and resources.
For Caroline Zyla – an engineer who heads IMI Precision’s Growth Hub – everything in her world up to that point was governed by a Plan, Do, Check, Act process – the iterative design and management method used for the control and continual improvement of processes and products, derived from the father of quality control, William Deming. ‘The test and learn work I’m now doing is the most fun I’ve had in 18 years with the company.’
One of the recurring traps organisations find themselves falling into with innovation and growth programmes is the inability to find the right balance of accountability, ambition, and support for teams.
Jackie Hu is a believer that without skin in the game, teams and leaders in a corporate setting will generally default to playing it safe and not taking the risks necessary. ‘We needed to evolve to a new hybrid type of intrapreneur model. Within the Growth Hub, this matches the nature of the work across the four stages. In the scaling phase where entrepreneurial behaviours are most critical, we’re hiring people who do want the risk/return and they have dedicated boards to ensure sufficient challenge.’
For the rest of the system, the key is effective sponsorship from the executive leadership group. Caroline Zyla believes that creating safety is vital when you are balancing ambitious targets which set expectations in budgets, with a paradoxical message that it’s OK to fail. ‘That’s an awkward balancing act. The key is a highly engaged senior sponsor who understands the risk profile and can represent it to the senior team. This creates a strong sense of safety and prevents surprises building up at pitches.’
For Beth Ferreira who leads IMI Precision Engineering and joined the company soon after the Growth Hub had started, diversity is key to the organisation’s future. ‘Embedding different thinking into our businesses for challenge and constructive trouble-making has definitely opened our collective mindset.’
The real meaning of a Growth Mindset includes breaking the rules and learning to live and thrive with failure. Furthermore, according to David Powell-Wiffen (who leads the Growth Hub in IMI Critical Engineering) to build a growth mindset means holding a tension between assumption busting, a focus on outcomes, and resilience.
Ultimately, the power of checking in is key to building a Future Now organisation. Throughout IMI, check-in has had a great impact. Twites’ team starts and ends meetings with check-ins, finding it opens thinking and identifies issues that might otherwise go unspoken. As Kieran Griffin observes, ‘the check-in has brought problems out into the open faster and with more honesty and greater willingness to solve them. Its effect has been incredible.’
Annemie Ress is the Founder of PurpleBeach, a people innovation consultancy delivering transformation, growth, and commercial results to businesses.
Jean Gomes, is a New York Times bestselling author, mindset specialist, and CEO of Outside.
You can also read this publication here:
- Digital Journal – https://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/correction-building-a-future-now-organisation
- International Business Times – https://markets.financialcontent.com/ibtimes/article/accesswire-2022-7-14-correction-building-a-future-now-organisation
- Yahoo Finance – https://finance.yahoo.com/news/correction-building-future-now-organisation-161500459.html
- Business Insider – https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/correction-building-a-future-now-organisation-1031588424