Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Bova, Growth IQ

In Growth IQ: Get Smarter about the Choices That Will Make or Break Your Business (Portfolio/Penguin, 2018) Tiffani Bova regales the reader with stories about 30 companies to demonstrate what she considers to be the only 10 paths to growth. Although this book is written for entrepreneurs and managers, it’s a worthwhile read for investors who want to assess the growth strategies of companies on their radar screen.

Without the stories, the paths to growth—customer experience, customer base penetration, acceleration, product expansion, customer and product diversification, sales optimization, churn, partnerships, co-opetition, and unconventional strategies—would seem either abstract or, in many cases, obvious. Moreover, taken in isolation, they probably wouldn’t even work. As Bova writes, “It isn’t enough to have the ‘right’ new growth strategy. You must fully understand what the current market context is prior to making any moves.” And then you need to select key actions that can positively influence outcomes and establish a priority, order, and timing to those actions. In sum, “Growth IQ is a holistic approach to finding the right path, in the right market context, in the right combination and sequence—creating a multiplier effect that is far more powerful than just focusing on one or two efforts in isolation.”

Almost all of the companies Bova writes about are publicly traded, though not all of them are stock market darlings. Some companies, such as Sears, Blockbuster, Wells Fargo, and Blue Apron, are fodder for cautionary tales. Even those that Bova selected to illustrate a particular path to growth may not have executed especially well in another domain, at another time.

Growing a company is not a mechanical exercise, as Bova points out again and again in her examples. But intelligently pursuing multiple paths to growth will pay off. “Amazon has pursued all ten possible growth paths in little more than two decades.” It is “the very embodiment of Growth IQ.”

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