Business leaders face two challenges, to execute on current core business and to grow the business into new areas. We can refer to this as “now’ and ‘new” challenges. This development theme is about how you as a leader best can balance between the two.
The hardest part of managing “now” and “new” starts with you. You will suffer from slow growth in the new if you spend 100% of your time on running the current business. Building momentum around the new start how you as a leader dedicate your time. When your team sees you calling for meetings on the new, they will follow. If you cannot change yourself to focus on new do not expect your organization to succeed. Delegating the leadership of new to someone in your team does not work.
I suggest you start measuring how much time you dedicate to new, e.g. meetings you call, prepare for and quality thinking time. My experience from looking at different leadership challenges in building new are:
- With no major industry shifts at the horizon I envision you to spend 10% of your time weekly to new and 90% to now.
- Operating in a fast paced industry with frequent market changes you spend 20% of your time on new and 80% on now.
- When major market inflection points are in play you spend 30% on new and 70% on now every week.
I you work 60h per week, new represent 6-18h a week dedicated to your growth agenda. Your ability to drive the new agenda at this level of efforts is critical for your business transformation.
As a leader you must run both now and new at the same time. The now business requires daily attention to make sure you can deliver on this year’s targets. By leading both now and new you also secure the new business builds on strengths in your now business. Otherwise it is easy to let expansions come too far away from the core.
Here are a few questions to work with in this area
- How much time are you dedicating to plan/execute new meetings and for quality thinking each week? – Without you dedicating time to new agenda your organization will not.
- What are the types of activities in building new you have seen to be most effective? – This varies a lot between organizations and type of business you are in.
- What does your business outlook tell you about how fast now might change and how fast new is coming? – As a rule of thumb now and new rarely move at the same pace up and down to compensate for each other.
For further insights in this field here are a few suggestions
- The ambidextrous organization [ARTICLE] – by Michael Tushman (@MichaelTushman)
- Innovating at at&t: Partnering to lead the broadband revolution[CASE STUDY] – By Harvard
- Innovation in the midst of disruptive technology[PDF] – by KPMG
Set the ambition to become an ambidextrous leader, capable of addressing both now and new. Growth leadersd can engage in the continued conversation on this topic via @TweeterLinder #DigitalMentor and #BusinessGrowthLeaders