A financial services company was trying to figure out how to accelerate significant growth. For the past ten years, its 2,000+ employees had worked hard and pushed themselves to grow profits ten-fold. Then, two private equity firms bought the company, and the new owners wanted them to triple profits over the next 5 years—a huge step-change.
Tripling profits in a short time-frame would require the company to produce next-level strategies and plans that they had never thought of before. Moreover, people were feeling tired, and this would require them to stretch themselves even more, take on new responsibilities, and do things differently. In other words, the new strategy couldn’t be simply pushed through; it had to have the buy-in of the workforce.The CEO knew that given the five-year timeline, spending a year to come up with a strategy and mobilize people would mean losing a crucial year for execution.They needed answers fast.
The company’s leadership decided to bring together 40 people for a Syntegration over two-and-a-half days. At first, the company wanted to keep the gathering in-house, but we convinced them to involve their new owners, so four people from the two private equity firms joined the team. Together, the team decided that they wanted to solve the problem of tripling growth in a way that ensured that the company continued to be a great place to work with and for.
Instead of working incrementally from the present, they decided to visualize what success would look like in five years from now out—and then reverse-engineer the process from there. They asked questions such as,“What are the infrastructures and technology we have to start using now to reach that kind of growth?” They also explored adjacent markets, improving employee engagement, technology differentiators, margin expansion, and so on.
Together, the large group came up with a robust strategy that included both inorganic and organic growth tactics for growth. Participants commented that the strategy that resulted from a few days of intense back-and-forth would have otherwise taken months to develop. The strategy was later converted by a smaller group into concrete action-steps: timelines, budgets, and ownership.
Just two years after the Syntegration, the company had doubled profits and continue to not miss a beat. They’ve won a few industry awards for their advising and asset management capabilities.
The Syntegration also served as an accelerated “on boarding” for the company’s new owners, as it compressed six months’ worth of learning into two-and-a-half days. It instilled in the new owners additional confidence in the company’s leadership and rank-and-file. The PE owners and the leadership team continue to use the strategic action plan that emerged from the Syntegration to monitor and evaluate progress in quarterly meetings. They refer to the Syntegration as “an inflection point.”
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