Momentum is like a freight train running on a track. When your organization has momentum, work hard to keep it because it can carry you further and faster. With momentum, growth becomes exponential, new doors of opportunity open, and your team thrives.
When you lose momentum, it feels as though the train has not only stopped but the wheels have rusted to the track. It can take an incredible amount of energy to get your organization moving again…and sometimes you never regain the same level of momentum.
In the last 27 years of growing my business from a startup into a global enterprise, I have come to realize that as much as I love momentum, it comes with a cost.
The first challenge is keeping up with the success itself. Your organization can quickly become stretched thin to keep up with demand and you start looking for quick solutions to scale faster and ease the pain. It seems like operational disciplines you previously established are no longer relevant. This is why businesses can grow broke faster than they can go broke.
If you manage to scale and not break under the rapid growth, the next challenge is that momentum covers a multitude of weaknesses. It can carry you even if your product and services aren’t perfect. This is especially true if your momentum is market driven. Sometimes you just happen to be in the right place at the right time. A simple example is a rookie realtor in a real estate boom. If you are wise and realize that the market momentum is accelerating your growth, then double down on your products and services and be prepared for momentum to slow.
The third challenge is how momentum re-frames our expectations. We used to be happy with steady growth. After losing momentum, small wins feel like failures, and we spend too much time looking back rather than building forward. This can be even harder for our team if we haven’t managed their expectations during momentous growth and helped our people to steward their financial wins.
This is exactly why momentum has a best friend named discipline.
Here are three areas of organizational growth where I have learned that doubling down on discipline is key to creating momentum, thriving in momentum and maintaining momentum.
First is customer experience. As new customers exponentially increase, don’t just add more people, analyze and re-invent your processes and create efficiencies in customer workflow. Determine which customer journey engagements require a “high touch” experience. In the automotive industry, a simple greeting by a sales manager early in the sales process adds huge value to the customer experience. Offering customers a bottle of water and putting a reserved sign on their vehicle are also simple but powerful gestures, and are surprisingly hard to deliver consistently…without a disciplined commitment to customer experience.
The second is product-market fit. As the market changes, so do our customers' needs. Sometimes our product needs to change and other times it’s how we deliver it. In the retail automotive industry, I tell car dealers that it's not the cars they are selling, but rather it’s their purchase experience. One of the most profound things their sales team can do is to offer to go to the customer rather than expecting the customer to come to them. As another example, some of the most impactful churches understand that the best way to get their community to come to them, is to first go to their community—that’s creating product market fit.
The third area is customer retention. When your flow of new customers seems never ending, it's so easy to lose focus on past customers. One powerful discipline to put in place is a cadence of regular communication with your customers after they purchase. Intentionally craft communications that aren’t selling or promoting any additional services…they are just about adding value.
Momentum can be a leader's greatest asset, but only if you bring Discipline on the journey and you make sure that discipline and momentum are your organization’s best friends.
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