As we enter the time of year when many companies begin to think about their Strategic Plan, it is a virtual guarantee that growth will be one of the top 2-3 strategic goals. We get to see many organizations from the Fortune 500 to the Fortune 5 Million and they all want organic revenue growth. Solid balance sheets have led many organizations to try and buy growth because organic growth is harder work.

The focus of this blog is less about one of the growth levers that we all consider prominently, which is gaining new share in the markets we already compete in. The focus here is adjacent markets we may look to for growth. Working with a client, we developed a simple tool called the “White Space Locator”. Depending on the markets you serve, you will be able to segment the various elements that align your brand [and your value differentiators] to your ideal customers. Vertical industries, client size, geographic locations are all obvious segments. Knowing your markets and the ability to address the needs of adjacent markets opens up your aperture on growth.

What would be required for you to go up market or down market? Could you leverage strengths to move from one vertical [Banks] to an adjacent vertical [Capital Markets]? What investments would be required to enter a new geography, whether that a region or a country? As you model or chart out the opportunities, you will begin to see the “White Space” that exists. I call it “white space” based on how we drew the original visuals. Black Boxes are what you do today and the “white boxes” were the spaces around the black boxes that represented the adjacent opportunities or where you do not play today. It gives you a simple visual of the number of opportunities. If you modeled your larger competitors in a similar way, it would give you clues as to the white spaces that they have tried to capitalize upon.

Industry Value Chains and Vertical Integration are also ways of giving you ideas to what else you could be doing, that provide other visuals of opportunity areas.

We then put clients through a “Winning Moves” exercise that quantifies the scope of the opportunity for each of the White Spaces in comparison with the Ease to both enter and Execute. You are looking for high value opportunities that support or drive growth goals that align with strengths, have limited impact on other priorities and have high execution probability. You could also view these elements as a measurement of Risk. This will inevitably lead to the Buy, Build or Partner conversation on all the Winning Moves identified in the White Space.

Strategy is about choice and strategic choice is more about “what not to do”. This is all fun work and it will give you perspective on where to invest your valuable resources and help with decision making. The more you know, the greater the opportunity for you to innovate and create strategic differentiation.

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