How to Build Successful and Enduring Organizations Gain market traction, innovate and engage talent: one maturity level at a time

By Ajay Batra

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In a volatile business environment plagued with hyper-competition select start-ups like AirBnB and Ola scale and become dominating forces, while others languish or fade into oblivion. Also, some large enterprises like Google and IBM continue to innovate and grow while others like Nokia and Eastman Kodak, stagnate or falter in challenging times. Clearly, long-term success of new or existing enterprises is not governed by size, age, breakthrough products or marketing brilliance alone.

Contrary to what is frequently shared in the popular media, high valuations and charismatic leaders are also not sufficient. Wholesome success is achieved by implementing a long-term and disciplined approach that promotes customer-centricity, financial prudence, continuous innovation and talent engagement. Such an approach is critical for building successful and enduring organizations.

The journey of building an enduring enterprise is long-term and non-linear; consisting of a series of decisions, actions, learnings and pivots. While the specific steps vary from one business context to another there are five critical stages, or Maturity Levels, that each organization must cross. Each Maturity Level introduces new organizational activities while strengthening those of the previous levels. An organization's journey across these levels entails effective implementation of key practices, and their disciplined assimilation in the organization's culture.

1. LAUNCH

Introduce Innovative Products and Services in the Market

Discover opportunities, validate customer needs, build a cohesive initial team and evolve robust business models. A power-packed Maturity Level for getting Startups off the ground, as well as for introducing new products or services within an existing company.

2. MANAGE

Excel in Customer Acquisition and Product/service Quality

Increase market traction, manage resources, delight customers and develop talent. This Maturity Level instils management discipline to provide a stable and outcome-oriented base to the business

3. DEFINE

Create Systems to Deliver Great Customer Value Consistently

Build the brand, improve business processes, identify key competencies and enhance individual capabilities. This Maturity Level is critical for developing a culture of high-performance and predictability.

4. SCALE

Explore Opportunities for Business Expansion and Diversification

Pursue hyper growth with support from inter-disciplinary teams. This Maturity Level enables the organization to explore new business frontiers by leveraging qualitative and quantitative insights on products, services, processes and customers.

5. INNOVATING

Build a Culture of Continuous Learning and Innovation

Pro-actively seek product/service/process ideas from within and outside the organization. Evaluate ideas, develop prototypes and implement innovations. This Maturity Level takes the organization to an enduring state of being agile and creative.

In its quest to become enduring, often, an organization's sense of its true capabilities is clouded by subjectivity, external perceptions, special interest stakeholders, or quite simply, not having adequate information. Without a reliable mirror to accurately reflect organizational strengths and improvement areas, organizations often go astray in their market strategies or internal plans. The five maturity levels put an end to this guessing game as they enable an organization to take periodic "health checks". These checks help shape its vision, as much as they provide valuable ongoing feedback on what's working, and what's not, in areas such as strategy, planning, customer delight and people engagement.

Ajay Batra

Founder, Uniqorn Growth Partners

Ajay Batra is an entrepreneur, author, angel investor, and active contributor to innovation and startup ecosystems. He has been recognized for his ground-breaking work in Design Thinking and Startup Maturity Models. He is the Founder Uniqorn Growth Partners, a global startup advisory and assessment company, and a Senior Advisor with

Venture Fastrack of the Wadhwani Foundation. He has recently published his book, ‘The Startup Launchbook’ with Wiley.

He was the Founding CEO of the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Bennett University. He also headed Bennett Hatchery – the startup incubator. He is a Charter Member of TiE, a member of LeadAngels and a Mentor for Atal Innovation Centres, NITI Aayog. He serves on several national committees of FICCI and CII and is a sought-after jury member for national and international startup competitions like HULT Challenge, CII Startpreneur Awards, Babson Challenge, ET Power of Ideas, Innovation Launchpad, etc.

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