Tuesday, August 18, 2009

New profile additions in the C-suite – Chief Growth Officer (CGO)

In recent months, organic growth has risen to the top of the corporate agenda. A Marakon survey in April 2004 found that organic growth is the key issue for 59 percent of the senior executives running US, European and Asian companies. For 57 percent, the priority has increased over the past year. Other studies highlight similar sentiments. For instance, a recent IBM survey of CEOs worldwide found revenue growth is the top agenda item for four of five.

Most if not all of a company's resources are spent moving through its corporate lifecycle, and that movement is typically fixed along a predetermined path. What happens when that company experiences rapid sales growth and an immediate change is required?

What happens when a rapid shift must occur due to unexpected competitor activity or due to a recent exodus of staff in light of the current labor shortage?

The challenge today is that with companies running lean and efficiently they cannot typically afford the time, money, and people required to deal with these issues effectively. They usually cannot afford the expensive trial-and-error associated with both learning and implementing new best practices, either. This is as true for Fortune 500 companies trying to reinvent themselves as it is for startups just entering the marketplace and experiencing fast growth.

Growth has become so important that an increasing number of companies--H.J. Heinz, Interpublic Group and Hain Celestial, among them--have carved out a new executive position: "Chief Growth Officer."

Popularly termed as Mr. Idea, this profile is basically to have one person in charge of all-around growth helps you to look at business processes holistically. Typical role entails creating new products, finding new ways to repackage old products, or just enhancing relationships.

A CGO is like having 5 key positions in one:-
1. Chief Growth Officer/Organization Development Director
2. Chief Information & Technology Officer
3. Chief Learning Officer (Top HR Executive)
4. Chief Operating Officer
5. Strategic Advisor

Generic job responsibilities:
- Evaluates the corporate structure and ensures that the structure is aligned with the company's objectives.
- Analyses effects of proposed changes to structure and its effect on the motivation and work/life balance of employees.
- Works with managers to develop effective line of communication and chains of responsibility.
- Requires a bachelor's degree with at least 10 years of experience in the field.
- Familiar with a variety of the field's concepts, practices, and procedures.
- Relies on extensive experience and judgment to plan and accomplish goals.
- Performs a variety of tasks.
- Leads and directs the work of others.
- A wide degree of creativity and latitude is expected.

Fig: Org Structure

Companies like Colgate Palmolive, Dentsu Media, Thomas Group, Zurich Financial Services, Hershey Company, TradeKing, H.J. Heinz, Interpublic Group and Hain Celestial etc. have already hired renowned professionals for this profile.

According to a recent job post for this profile, following are the expected qualities of this profile: -
# Identify root causes for missing opportunities and create conditions for growth
# Focus on new business models that leverage enabling trends, solve customer problems in larger potential markets and rapidly assemble internal and external capabilities required to build the platforms
# Validate ideas and achieve milestones in the development and execution of new business opportunities
# Promote new product development
# Design and build an organization to screen, select, fund and deliver the company Enterprise Growth
# Agenda and support Group Growth Agendas; define the mission of the organization and establish budget and investment requirements
# Support the CEO and Group VPs in shaping their enterprise and group growth agendas and related plans and priorities
# Understand future trends and targeted domains/markets and related dynamics
# Identify domains in which the company should seek opportunities to build a leadership position; explore big potential opportunities, (which customers could the company work with to prototype/build out the opportunities? what core capabilities can be leveraged in this new and emerging opportunity space?)
# Identify the systemic and interrelated challenges that drive towards and away from growth; align key elements of infrastructure and culture/behavior to the growth goals and agendas
# Mobilize business building leaders and teams to build out new targeted businesses/growth platforms

Requirements: Critical Traits for the CGO Role:
# Abstract reasoning, flexibility and idea orientation (able to 'connect the dots')
# Assertiveness and aggressiveness (can state opinions forcefully and deal with resistance or confrontation effectively)
# Self-discipline and urgency (sense of time pressure and motivation to complete activities)
# Risk taking (willing to try new things and explore new domains)
# Natural curiosity with bias for action exploring possibilities
# Ego drive and ego strength
# An undergraduate degree is required

Critical Experiences:
# Experience in strategy development with a history of innovation and passion for growth
# Track record indicating focused time to the external environment, customers, and external networking

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