Over the last two years I worked with leaders of organizations
large and small on how to drive growth in our sluggish economy,
putting me in the position to see what’s working and what’s not in
private sector companies, public sector agencies, and associations
of all kinds.

When I say growth I mean: (a) Increased profits, (b) Increases in
revenue that will generate profits in the near term – for example,
following an upfront investment or due to a predictable, favorable
change in the market like the massive distribution of iPads taking
place this Xmas – or (c) Increases in market penetration that will
generate increased profits. This last version of growth is what I
call a gateway action because it opens the way to new sources of

There is a dramatic difference between those organizations that are
growing aggressively and those who are not. The latter group is
hunkering down, hoping to weather the storm. Instead of driving
expansion they are becoming marginalized, receding into the
background, and as a consequence facing commoditization – not an
enviable position.

Here’s the deal. As long as the economy is sluggish, we are
actually experiencing an Opportunity Window. This window happens
anytime satisfaction dips into the negative zone (see my graphic
below), meaning your customers are dissatisfied. They can be
dissatisfied for quantitative reasons as when their margins or
volume are down. But it is just as valuable an opportunity when
they are dissatisified qualitatively, meaning they are pessimistic
or upset.

You see, when customers are dissatisfied, they want things to be
other than they are and that is exactly the energy you can leverage
to create new kinds of value. Their dissatisfaction is one of the
necessary precursors to a favorable economy. The other is that you
figure out how to generate that value through growth.

Keep in mind, the early stages of this value opportunity mean that
the market as a whole does not recognize the opportunity. But, you
will because you are making use of the opportunity window…

There are three strategies that utilize this window for

1. Focus on alleviating the constraints your customers are
2. Transpose your core competencies to adjacent markets.
3. Capitalize on your relationship assets (the people who trust
you) to uncover new opportunities for value creation.

More on these three strategies in upcoming issues of Monday Morning

I am Seth Kahan and I help leaders
drive change for business success.