Our customers also ask themselves these questions. Radiology practices and hospitals consider a myriad of complex issues when planning for expansion, all of which are seemingly opposite. We need to increase investment, but investment budgets need to be tightened. We want to extend care to more people in our community, but there is a limit to the number of radiologists we can hire. We want unlimited innovative thinking, but we have to constrain it with realism.
As much as businesses in any industry want to grow and encourage ‘the sky’s the limit’ ambitions, the reality is that limits are everywhere. How organizations plan for growth and determine where to compromise (and where not to) along the way is crucial.
KIND (manufacturer of snack bars) is a well-documented example. According to multiple sources, KIND founder Daniel Lubetzky could afford just $24,000 a year early in the company’s history, when it was tiny and unknown; today the company’s products can be found in more than 80,000 stores across the country and this has created wealth. But growing KIND required managing boundaries and compromises, knowing when to create them and when to break them.
Such an opportunity which was a mistake, according to Lubetzky, severely limited the budget for sampling – the distribution of free samples of the product – because the return on investment (ROI) was not immediate and not easy to measure. This self-imposed limit held back the company’s growth for some time. Not enough people had tried KIND bars to be aware of them, let alone know how good they were. Once Lubetzky recognized this self-imposed limitation as a mistake and opted to break that red light by increasing the sampling budget tenfold, sales took off.
On the other hand, Lubetsky never imposed a limit on the quality of the products, even if it sometimes went against the growth. For example, it took KIND two years to develop a new bar (dark chocolate sea salt). While he said they probably could have launched it in six months and increased revenue sooner, they also knew it would undermine their long-term values and growth by delivering a product that didn’t taste like it. it should, potentially causing them to lose buyers.
The key for KIND, as with all growing businesses, is knowing where to accept or set boundaries and where to compromise, and where NOT to. United Imaging and our customers are no different. Here are three things we’ve learned over 12 years of growth, an initial public offering (IPO), and 20,000 installs.
A brand promise can keep you on track
Ours is the passion for change. What is your?
Passion for Change is an example of an active, not a passive brand promise. This carries weight within United Imaging. It is a criterion by which we measure whether what we are doing is acceptable. In fact, we often ask ourselves, “What’s the next way to change our industry?” »
As we grew our business, we relied on it to decide whether we were taking on the right challenges and bringing the right things to market. If a client doesn’t see our passion and doesn’t see that what we offer is a meaningful and significant change from what was offered to them in our industry before, we stop to focus before going any further. The purpose of a brand promise is to ensure that we are building on the right foundation as we grow and add customers.
The BMW brand promise, “The Ultimate Driving Machine”, also serves this purpose. The statement talks about what the company wants its automobiles to be and what the customer should perceive: performance and luxury. If BMW had evolved without this level of focus on what its brand was meant to be, it would have diluted BMW’s differentiation and the company would have become “just a good automaker”.
Companies that are growing the right way have intentionally identified their brand promise and use it to ensure their appetite for growth is focused on the long term, not just short-term gains.
Scale alone is a vague goal
We have learned to be specific and deliberate about what the scale means to us. In the US market, for example, we have a scaling formula that we look at from the customer’s perspective. For example, we have a standard for CSE (customer service engineer) response time which is very specific and industry leading. Our CSEs can receive text messages directly from their customers when they need them, which is very contrary to the normal process required to contact a customer support center in our industry.
We have grown worldwide at a very satisfying and rewarding rate – from 8,500 global installations just at the start of the COVID pandemic to over 20,000 this month. In the United States, we have chosen to manage our rapidly growing business faithfully using our specific standards. If we’re growing too quickly to provide personal customer interactions, we’ll step back to make sure we get back to that standard.
One example we hear from healthcare providers is their desire to standardize – in our case, for example, in terms of medical imaging equipment. For example, a suite of digital multi-modality equipment can help them increase flexibility and reduce costs by facilitating cross-training of staff. “Scaling through standardization” is a good example of being deliberate and specific about scale, rather than growth alone being the goal.
Don’t limit R&D and don’t compromise on innovation
There’s a reason companies like Tesla and Apple invest so much in R&D. R&D brings the voice of the customer into innovation and shows us where it’s important to focus. Approximately 40% of United Imaging employees hold R&D positions. This is the foundation of customer-centric innovation. It’s not easy at first to keep funneling money into R&D, but it’s often not the place to compromise.
We talk actively and frequently at United Imaging about not compromising on innovation. Often in the medical imaging industry, trade-off has been used to suggest a trade-off — better image quality at the expense of higher dose, for example. The problem is that compromise is not the right goal to achieve when it comes to innovation. Compromise means that an outcome in the innovation process is acceptable because it strikes the best balance between the desired outcome and the imposed limitations.
Instead, the goal of innovation should be to see how far we can push performance when there are no “sacred cows” – to pursue optimization as far as our imaginations and our abilities allow it – and to do it again and again, going further each time. This model works in any industry, but it works especially well when companies are highly vertically integrated. In a modern, vertically integrated company like United Imaging, more is designed and built in-house, allowing greater freedom when it comes to optimizing not only each component, but also how the components work together. .
Compromise is not always a bad thing. This is when it comes to innovation. Too constraining R&D inevitably leads to more compromises than there should be in the field of medical imaging.
The Basics: Growth Standards
United Imaging has learned over its years of phenomenal growth that a clear brand promise to the customer, a clear definition of how scale will be defined, and an investment in R&D and innovation without the term “compromise ” are three elements of a successful growth strategy.
These are standards and commitments that have actually allowed United Imaging to grow faster because we can see where we are going. Companies like KIND, BMW, Apple and Tesla, who also created precise and specific standards for their growth, knew where to compromise and where to set limits as they evolved – and where to accelerate through the green lights in front of them.
The comments and observations expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of AuntMinnie.com.
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