Emily Marsh July 25 2023

Accelerating the pace of change

Learn how organisations can achieve rapid and sustainable growth by unlocking the key principles of rapid evolution. Discover the five principles that can help your organisation avoid growth stalls and drive success.

Last month, CEO and Client Director Jill Jenkinson and Research and Impact Director Dr Zara Whysall ran a webinar sharing their new research on the way organisations achieve rapid and sustainable growth, and what makes some businesses successful in this endeavour, and some not. In this blog we'll be highlighting some of the key points in the session, however if you'd like to watch the full recording for yourself, you can do so here.

The key questions

In embarking on this research project, it was important to define the organisations that seem to have accomplished rapid evolution, and to think critically about how they had gotten there:

- Who were these organisations?

- What kind of growth had they seen?

- Why was it faster than anyone else's?

- What can we learn from it?

The first conclusion drawn from asking these questions was that the organisations that are most at risk from stalling or becoming stagnant in terms of growth are large, successful organisations. Once a business has become very large, change becomes slower due to the increase in internal processes and red tape, and as such the organisation cannot transform fast enough to cope with the pace of change in the world around them. This can be compounded by the fact that organisations that have traditionally been very successful can become very protective over the way they have previously done business, and as such develop limiting mindsets towards change.

The second key conclusion that came from our initial research was that growth stalls are something that will be experienced by the majority of businesses - in fact when we look at Fortune 100 companies over 50 years, 87% became 'stuck' at least once in that time period. This growth stall often results in a large loss in market capitalisation, so not only does it slow growth, it can also wipe out market value. A lot of the reason for this lies with leadership decision making, and the way that leaders organise themselves and their organisation.

How do we combat this?

It became apparent that there are five key principles that summarise how an organisation can unlock rapid evolution in order to avoid growth stalls.

1 - Rapid change cannot be a one-off - it has to be a continual process that becomes part of the way you do business. 

2 - Retain the mindset of a small business - avoid red tape and keep an entrepreneurial outlook to the organisation.

3 - Identify where to vary the pace of change. Look outside to what is going on in the market and identify which areas of your business need to adapt quickly, and where you can take a rest to avoid employee burnout.

4 - Focus on key priorities, get rid of the things that are slowing you down and don't try to do everything at once.

5 - Comfort is the enemy; an organisation that can balance opposing tensions is most likely to be able to grow rapidly, rather than relying on past successes.


Building on point 5 above, we set about identifying the key areas of an organisation where, by balancing a set of opposite tensions, the opportunity to transform and grow is unlocked. These include things like balancing the need to look at the outside environment with having a strong internal conviction in your purpose or mission, and being free to experiment with the juxtaposition of quick and effective decision making. 

So what?

As much as this research is interesting, what we feel really strongly about is converting these insights into actionable steps that organisations can take towards achieving rapid evolution for themselves.  The first thing leaders can do is examine the way their organisation works through the lens of the 'tensions' we identified. Take each one in turn and discuss whether it is something that, in theory, your organisations would advocate for, and then think again about whether employees feel like this is something that actually plays out day to day in their lived experience. 

With each of the tensions, your senior leadership team could ask themselves a series of questions. What initial response does each one provoke in you? What does it make you think about your own organisation? How does it relate to your growth strategy?

In conclusion

Due to the evidence behind this research we really hope that it will help to transform the way people think about organisational growth. If you'd like to watch the webinar recording in full you can do so here, or you can download the full eBook containing our research by clicking on the image below.


Rapid Evolution ebook download CTA

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