How companies get their growth intelligence right

By Leon Gettler >>

TIFFANI BOVA, global customer growth and innovation evangelist at Salesforce, has written extensively about the Growth IQ for companies. She talks to many businesses about it.

Ms Bova travels around the world helping companies grow in the face of stiff competition and a fast-changing business environment.

As she describes it, a company’s Growth IQ comes down to simple steps. But it’s also about being honest about where the company is heading.

“The one thing about growth is it’s not one thing and starting with the context that a business is in – what  industry, what region, what sector, whether other things are going on around them and within their own business – you need to know that first,” Ms Bova told Talking Business.

She said if companies did not know the context of their business, they might end up just replicating what their competition was doing. 

“If you just go for replicating what someone else is doing, that’s their context, that’s their culture, that’s their capabilities, not yours. That’s always super dangerous,” she said.

“You have to know your business, you have to know your employees, their capabilities, you have to know you customers.

“You have to know your ability to absorb change internally. You can’t throw a bunch of ideas out to your employees and expect them to respond accordingly and everything to be executed perfectly. There’s a lot that goes behind those things that need to be done.”


Ms Bova said the key question that businesses needed to ask was what kind of growth rate they wanted to have.

“Is it 2 percent, 5 percent., 10 percent, 50 percent? Each would have a different context for that business.”

One of the things Ms Bova does when she gives keynote speeches around the world is ask people how many want to grow their businesses? How many want to double their business in the next 12 months? How many want to grow at 50 percent? Or 25 percent? While everyone wants to grow, they want to grow at different paces.

“Then it goes back to that context. What can you handle as a business when it comes to growth?” Ms Bova said.


Tiffani Bova said when she talked to executive teams, there could be differing views within the company about how much growth they wanted, who their main competitors were and whether their company could handle innovation at a rapid pace.

Until everyone has a common starting ground, which is not easy to do, but at least the leadership teams need to have it, they can tackle the important issues facing the business, she said

Ms Bova cited a Bain study which found that 95 percent of businesses turning over more than $5 billion a year felt that internal inertia, not external forces, was what kept the business from growing profitably.

She said companies wanting to develop their Growth IQ needed to accept that growth is a thinking game. How much growth does the company want? Are their leaders aligned?

“It isn’t necessarily about having the best products, or the best strategy or the best execution,” Ms Bova said. “It’s about, did we come up with the right plan to begin with?”

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at

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