An Enterprise Platform for Strategy Automation: A Spotlight Q&A with Wayne Simmons, CEO of The Growth Strategy Company

Originally published 9 August 2013

This BeyeNETWORK spotlight features Ron Powell's interview with Wayne Simmons, CEO of The Growth Strategy Company. Ron and Wayne discuss how organizations can implement a cloud-based enterprise platform for growth strategy.

Wayne, I recently read your book, GrowthThinking: Building the New Growth Enterprise that you co-authored with  Keary  L. Crawford.  Could you discuss with our audience why you wrote the book and why it is so important for enterprises to address growth on a continual basis?

Wayne Simmons: We started this idea of GrowthThinking from working with clients directly – large corporations seeking new ways to grow. And as part of that exploration and client work, we realized that there was no real consistent form for growth strategy as a practice. So growth strategy became a focal point for us as we wrote the book. But broader than that is creating the conditions for growth. What separates a high growth company from a no-growth company? We started digging into that through research and realized that there were multiple dimensions that played into that question. That’s where the idea of growth thinking really took form. So basically, growth thinking was an offshoot of a void that we saw where large corporations were excellent at operational improvement, cost-cutting, etc., but they had no formal discipline for growth.

Wayne, you describe in your book the growth strategy framework. With the growth strategy framework, companies can formulate and execute a specialized and comprehensive strategy that is dedicated to the pursuit of sustainable business growth. The framework facilitates this by forcing a balance across various factors or perspectives that have the most influence on producing business growth opportunities and strategic outcomes. Could you describe each of these perspectives and the factors involved?

Wayne Simmons:
Sure. First, it is really important to really relate this to things that exist today. So the six dimensions of growth strategy really relate to the balanced scorecard world. We thought that on the growth side of the equation that these six dimensions would be appropriate.

Let’s start out with the company itself. One of the principal areas that is critical to growth is the idea of the culture and the assets of the company. What is the company competing on? Formulating strategy around the company’s culture,  how to improve it, how to make it more accretive to growth, how to maximize assets like patents and other intellectual property – those things become the core of the company.

The second dimension is the market – looking at different markets and trying to re-frame those markets. So oftentimes companies are dedicated – they know their existing markets very well, but their future growth is going to come from new markets. So looking at markets differently and, again, formulating and executing strategy to re-frame those markets and how one looks at markets.

The next area, of course, is the customer. Looking at customers in a new way – looking for non-customers. Very similar to markets, companies are very tuned to their existing customer base, but not so tuned to their non-customers, and that’s where the real growth is going to come from. So exploring new customers and renewing and reframing customers.

Moving along, the next dimension – the competitor. This is very similar to the company in the sense that each company has to understand who its competitors are and take preemptive action to actually change their competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. So formulating strategies to do that is very important.

As we go along, the products and services that a company offers oftentimes can get stale. The proposition for those offerings may not be as strong as it used to be. So creating strategy to renew the offering is also critical.

And, then, the business model itself. We look at business models as sort of the modern unit of commerce so renewing the business model is a critical component as well of modern growth strategy.

You recently announced the first enterprise platform for strategy automation, much like Salesforce did for sales and marketing automation platforms do for marketing departments. Can you highlight your platform and what it allows an enterprise to do?

Wayne Simmons: Sure. At the highest level, above sales and marketing there is strategy. And the idea as you go up the value chain from sales to marketing to strategy is to integrate those three disciplines. And that helps you with your short-term, your medium-term and your long-term growth. That’s the overall architecture of the relationship between these three different areas.

So our platform is built to support the workflow that’s needed to drive strategy and growth. It provides a system of record in order to capture the information that is needed to drive growth, and then it provides the analytics and social capabilities to actually be able to visualize and share.

Based on your experience, how long does it take for an enterprise to implement the platform?

Wayne Simmons: There are two answers to that. Traditionally implementing an enterprise system like this would take 12 to 18 months or longer. With GrowthCloud, the beauty is the cloud. We operate in the cloud so the implementation is not the form that we’re going to use. It’s basically about configuring it. So immediately as companies subscribe to GrowthCloud, they actually get value right away.

When you talk about implementing in the cloud, do you have a set of best practices that companies automatically get as part of the cloud?

Wayne Simmons: Absolutely. Within the framework of GrowthCloud, companies are provided with almost a tutorial, step-by-step approach of building out the platform and configuring it for their business needs. So those step-by-step instructions are based on industry best practices.

I would assume it supports multi-tenancy – that whatever they have in the cloud is secure and unique to them?

Wayne Simmons: Yes. We have actually three different cloud models. A full multi-tenant model is our primary model – that’s completely unique to them but using the same base of code. The second is a private cloud model that we could build for them. And finally, we can actually build inside firewalls as well.

With the customers you have already, is there a preferred method or are they going across all three right now?

Wayne Simmons: Customers that we’re working with today – the early adopters – are absolutely looking at multi-tenancy. The cost advantages and the speed to value advantages are just so overwhelming that they’re really getting that full software-as-a-service model.

Excellent. Can you highlight for us what benefits your customers have already experienced by implementing GrowthCloud?

Wayne Simmons: Sure. I think the most powerful and immediate thing that we’re seeing is this idea of a system of record: taking things that are on paper, taking things that are difficult to find and difficult to analyze and putting it in one place and then allowing multiple people – from around the globe in some cases – to share and collaborate with that information. The ability to do that quickly is reaping tremendous rewards for our clients.

It sounds like that would provide an excellent reference for compliance efforts. Are you seeing that as well?

Wayne Simmons: That’s a really interesting point. You think about unique corporate business processes – whether it’s finance, HR or supply chain – there’s typically a system of record in place already that is a single source of information. But in the strategy world, as critical as it is for companies and as well vested as it is for companies, there is no system of record. So we think this system of record that’s provided with GrowthCloud provides tremendous benefits to them in terms of compliance and business value.

From a company perspective, are we looking at a $10 million, $100 million or a billion-dollar company?

Wayne Simmons: The ideal candidates for GrowthCloud are large, $100+ million organizations, divisions of large corporations and at the corporate level as well. We can do a corporate overlay for multi-divisional type of corporations.

So what Norton and Kaplan did for business performance management, The Growth Strategy Company is really focused on doing the same for growth strategy automation. Would that be a correct assumption?

Wayne Simmons: That’s absolutely correct. We think that Norton and Kaplan with balanced scorecard have created a very strong discipline around operational excellence. Their companies know how to pull those levers. With The Growth Strategy Company, what we’re trying to do with GrowthCloud is really the other side of the equation – the growth, innovation and strategy side. When companies are able to do balanced scorecard and growth strategy, we think that’s where they can really create a tremendous value for shareholders.

Do the Norton and Kaplan strategy maps actually tie into your platform?

Wayne Simmons: We don’t really address that specifically. We certainly have the hierarchy of strategies and initiatives, but we tie it to the growth strategy framework. It is very similar to the balanced scorecard model with their four areas of focus within the strategy maps.

Do you have a visual component to the platform for executives that are dealing at a strategic level?

Wayne Simmons: Yes. Our entire platform is built around visualizations. Our system of record is actually a visual type of catalog – so think of a Pinterest type of interface where images drive the data. And, of course, our visualizations are very easy to use, and they’re drill-down as well. We try to paint a picture with the data.

Excellent. Wayne, for companies that are interested in moving forward with strategy automation, how would you suggest they get started?

Wayne Simmons: I think the first thing to do is map your existing process and then contact us. Frankly, we would love to show GrowthCloud to more companies. When they see it, they’ll see their existing processes in what we’re doing and hopefully see the benefits of using it in the cloud.

Wayne, thank you for taking the time to provide us with information on how we can create a formal discipline around growth through strategy automation.

SOURCE: An Enterprise Platform for Strategy Automation: A Spotlight Q&A with Wayne Simmons, CEO of The Growth Strategy Company

  • Ron PowellRon Powell
    Ron is an independent analyst, consultant and editorial expert with extensive knowledge and experience in business intelligence, big data, analytics and data warehousing. Currently president of Powell Interactive Media, which specializes in consulting and podcast services, he is also Executive Producer of The World Transformed Fast Forward series. In 2004, Ron founded the BeyeNETWORK, which was acquired by Tech Target in 2010.  Prior to the founding of the BeyeNETWORK, Ron was cofounder, publisher and editorial director of DM Review (now Information Management). He maintains an expert channel and blog on the BeyeNETWORK and may be contacted by email at 

    More articles and Ron's blog can be found in his BeyeNETWORK expert channel.

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