For those of you who find yourselves with more time to read over the next few weeks, Managing Partner at Blue Dots Partners, Philippe Bouissou just wrote an incisive, thought-provoking and engaging book titled Aligning the Dots: The New Paradigm to Grow Any Business to address a fundamental question near and dear to his heart: What do I do on Monday morning at eight o’clock to outpace my market and grow faster than my competitors?
I spoke to Philippe about his book and how he’s changing the thinking about the subject of top-line growth with his new methodology.
M.R. Rangaswami: What is wrong with the traditional methods of growth?
Philippe Bouissou: The most common way to address the challenge of growth is to quickly put the burden on sales. Let’s hire more salespeople, let’s redesign the compensation plan for the sales reps, let’s offer more incentives before the quarter ends. Beyond sales, I have seen a number of other tactics used, such as: let’s add a new feature that competition has; let’s acquire a business that will have an immediate positive impact on revenue; let’s increase the marketing budget; let’s offer discounts. My favorite: let’s create a new tagline or design a new logo.
In my 30-year experience in Silicon Valley as an entrepreneur, a CEO, a venture capitalist and having served on 20 boards of directors, these tactics rarely work and yield disappointing results. In some cases, they actually produce the opposite results: a decrease in revenue or a deceleration of revenue growth. The fundamental reason is because they are based on emotions rather than data, knee-jerk reactions rather than thoughtfulness, subjectivity rather than objectivity. Decisions lack the analysis, depth and clear understanding of the engine of growth and its inter-dependent components.
M.R.: So, what is your approach to this?
Philippe: The new approach is based on a comprehensive, data-driven and prescriptive revenue growth methodology, called A4 Precision Alignment™. It is based on the fundamental principle that a perfect alignment between the business and its target market is the only way to generate maximum growth.
While the notion that better aligning any business with its market helps revenue growth is well intuited, what’s really powerful is the existence of four universal axes of alignment between any business and its target market.
Using tools that we developed at Blue Dots (some are exposed in the book), a coefficient of alignment between 0% and 100% can be precisely measured for each of these four axes. These measurements reveal critical insights, which then form the basis to build the appropriate Growth Playbook specific to the business. Of course, the management team and employees also have to be internally aligned (the fifth axis) in order to successfully execute the Growth Playbook.
This new approach to pragmatically address the challenge of growth completely changes the perspective of CEOs, investors, board members and business leaders. It is a new lens through which the challenge of revenue growth and relevant actions can be brought into focus. It demonstrates how the complex puzzle of alignment is solved by developing a clear blueprint, so that everyone knows what to do on Monday morning when the clock chimes eight. It radically shifts the view from a “blind” tactical approach that rarely works to an objective decision process based on data, analytics and true insights.
A4 Precision Alignment™ works remarkably well. It delivers significant results: on average, companies who have implemented it have seen an uplift of 39% to their growth rate 12 months after using it. For example, if a company was growing at 10% the year before adopting the A4 Precision Alignment™ methodology, in the year following adoption, the growth rate would be 49%.
M.R.: Given today’s unprecedented COVID-19 crisis, why does your book matter?
Philippe: Beyond the terrible impact on the health of many, many people around the world, the coronavirus is walloping businesses, large and small. This new external force triggers significant misalignments and is already challenging the status quo like never before. As I describe in Chapter 3, These exogenous forces are one of the ways companies lose alignment. If not corrected, this loss of alignment will put even more pressure on the business and can have dire consequences for the very survival of the business.
More than ever, it is imperative that all companies reassess their alignment along the four axes and take appropriate corrective actions to adapt to the new unfortunate reality that the world is facing today and will continue to face in the foreseeable future.