Growth Matters

October 7, 2018
Interviews
Stephen Bradley

As an operator, entrepreneur, consultant and investor, I have worked with hundreds of companies. All of them have had one thing in common: growth. They were either achieving it and on their way to success, or they were not and failing. It has almost always been as simple as that.

Growth is the great curer of all ills. Growth can overcome deficiencies in management, strategy, tactics and personnel. Growth lifts everyone in a business to a higher plane, creating opportunities all along the way. If your business is not growing, then your business is, more often than not, in big trouble.

Growth can be driven by all manner of factors, some external and some internal, some controllable and some not. One thing is for certain: your business’ growth will end... UNLESS you are focused on it.

High growth companies can have a tendency to assume their growth, to get too comfortable with it. As a result, I have seen many treat growth as simply a measure of success. Growth is more than that. It is cultural. Growth has to be rooted in the foundation of a business. Sustained growth requires significant ongoing care, feeding, nurturing, monitoring and coordination.

Companies that don’t understand this all too often see their growth fade without recognizing any of the warning  signs. By the time they do see it, it’s too late to course-correct.

Companies with effective growth focus and philosophy have long looked for equally effective tool sets to match. We have seen multi-billion dollar industries grow up around, for example,  Business Intelligence and Performance Management – two sectors attacking the same challenge, helping customers create and manage sustained growth, from different ends of the beast. Business Intelligence aimed at distilling actionable insights from the typically voluminous available business data. Performance Management targeted at aligning individual performance objectives and targets with a business’s financial and strategic goals over the long term.  

These tools and platforms have been around for decades. Most have become behemoths unto themselves, adding features and functions ad nauseum until they are so unwieldy they require specialized full-time operators dedicated to their use. Even worse, they are very slow to provide meaningful feedback. It can take several weeks, months or even quarters before a business can effectively take action and see results.

Times have changed dramatically since these legacy classes of “growth tools” were introduced. Businesses operate at an entirely different pace today. There is more data, and far more sources of data, than ever conceived when most of these tools first started. Teams of people working together on common business goals have far more opportunity to collaborate and operate in sync with each other. Data can be accessed, analyzed and acted upon in real time. Knowledge can become part of the system, learning and making us more powerful and intelligent over time.

It’s long overdue that we start approaching business growth with a fresh set of eyes, ideas... and tools. This is why Yaguara caught my eye as a young company going through the Boomtown Boulder Accelerator, and why I have been excited about them ever since.

Yaguara’s approach to growth management has been different from the start. They believe that growth is everyone’s responsibility, and that everyone in a business should be empowered to see how their contributions are directly contributing. They believe that growth happens in real time, so it should be managed in real time. They believe everyone contributing should have direct access to the tools of growth, and that those tools should not be so complicated as to get in the way of productivity. They believe in keeping things simple and clean, and building tools that accommodate the business’ workflow, versus the other way around.

This is why I don’t see Yaguara fitting into any of the classic industry pundit growth/performance/management tool buckets. Yaguara is truly a new breed of animal. I expect the company’s philosophy and platform will be highly compelling to any company focused on building and cultivating a culture of growth from top to bottom. Yaguara has chosen to serve the e-commerce sector initially, and while I see that as a very natural beachhead, I expect Yaguara’s approach, philosophy, and ultimately, tool set to lay a much wider imprint before long.

Stephen Bradley is a seasoned technology leader and investor that has directed strategy at companies such as Gartner, Pandora, Skillsoft, and L2. Most notably, he helped build Gartner into the dominant IT market research provider, growing revenue from $40 to $850 million and adding $3.5 billion in enterprise value during tenure.