People Transformation: A Matter Of Trust For Growing Companies

Stephen Spears

 Part 7 of the “6 Attitudes of Best-Run Midsize Businesses” series

“I really wish I was less of a thinking man / And more a fool who’s not afraid of rejection.”

– Billy Joel’s “Sleeping with the Television On,” from the album “Glass Houses”

There’s nothing like an afternoon listening to my Billy Joel collection and discovering a universal truth about our digitalist ways. Less thinking, and less rejection – isn’t that what everyone wants?  Whether it’s in our consumer or employee experiences, technology is helping us create outcomes that are precise and acceptable.

This increasing desire for certainty is also impacting the success of midsize businesses. In fact, according to the IDC InfoBrief, “Becoming a Best-Run Midsize Company: How Growing Companies Benefit from Intelligent Capabilities,” 74% of surveyed midsize businesses that use innovation to meet organizational objectives yield high growth and profitability, compared to 0.5% of their lower-performing peers.

Embracing what IDC calls, an “outside-in” approach, these growing companies augment internal insights with external input from customers and other stakeholders. The IDC study found that the most successful midsize companies tend to adopt one or more of the following tactics:

  • Create internal organizations and teams devoted to innovation (60.8%)
  • Look actively outside the company or industry to internalize innovation best practices (50.1%)
  • Seek customer input and engagement proactively and programmatically (48.7%)
  • Allocate physical spaces for creative activities (41.7%)

How to foster a river of dreams full of innovation potential

In addition to the tactical activities outlined in the IDC study, it’s critical to consider the importance of the people in driving innovation. When people feel valued, sense genuine appreciation, and are rewarded for their contribution to the business, they are more inclined to change how they go about their day when their organization demands it. Employees are willing to take risks, stretch their current capabilities, and develop their own skills for the good of the company.

Often, I am reminded by our customers how well growing companies succeed when they transform their people strategies to build a workforce culture and organizational structure that values innovation. From time to time, I meet leaders from midsize businesses that align these priorities with their digital investments to accelerate the outcomes of existing business transformation strategies. Furthermore, they encourage an openness to innovate and continue that transformation as demands change.

But perhaps more interesting is how this focus on people transformation can help midsize companies gain a tremendous edge over their larger competitors. I am constantly in awe of how leaders of growing companies have their finger on the pulse of their business. By knowing the strengths of individual employees, sensing emerging behaviors and skills, and pinpointing capability and process gaps, they understand how business change impacts each person’s contribution and take action long before these factors affect the business negatively.

It is also important to recognize, as many of our customers insist, that technology fit is a crucial part of enabling these strategies. Companies need to choose digital investments that are directly aligned with their existing needs and capabilities today and can scale as the business grows, becomes more mature, and take on new markets tomorrow.

Leadership that lets the (empathetic) heart show the way

Most leaders are often tempted to dictate what they believe are the right changes for the business to help deliver the expected outcome. But ultimately, good leaders are those who understand that there are things that need to be addressed within an organization and are willing to listen and make the necessary change.

Exercising empathy lets business leaders position their workforce for transformation that makes sense – and invest in technology that enables it. They can tease out those hidden pockets of strength that open up new opportunities previously thought unimaginable. Furthermore, they can change the right areas of weakness to allow growth to flourish.

Get a real-world view of how your attitude and mindset toward digitalization can turn your company into a best-run business. We invite you to bookmark our series landing page “Six Attitudes of Best-Run Midsize Businesses” and check it for new insights and best practices.

In the meantime, read the IDC InfoBrief, “Becoming a Best-Run Midsize Company: How Growing Companies Benefit from Intelligent Capabilities,” sponsored by SAP, to discover the opportunities ahead for best-run midsize businesses.









Stephen Spears

About Stephen Spears

Stephen Spears is currently Chief Revenue Office of the SAP SuccessFactors leadership team, responsible for building a sustainable revenue model to ensure continued, robust sales growth and execution globally. In his 15 years at SAP, Stephen has served in a wide variety of leadership positions, including Head of Global Sales for SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud, a business he started five years ago and has become one of our largest and fastest-growing cloud businesses. Stephen holds his Bachelor of Arts degree from Brigham Young University. He is also a passionate cyclist and musician.