Is your firm a good candidate for a fractional CGO?

me working in Beijing, China during a brief trip there

Determining whether your firm is a good candidate for a fractional Chief Growth Officer (“CGO”) requires only a handful of questions.

And it’s worth asking and answering these questions now, to ensure your firm doesn’t miss the boat on this emerging trend. As Wouter Vermeulen, CEO of Vermeulen Group– a talent acquisition and development firm for the tech industry, wrote in Forbesthis past June:

Now, almost overnight, things have changed and the “Great Rehire” is producing an uptick in companies looking at fractional-interim hires — i.e., leaders who take up part-time positions in the SVP/C-suite and bring vast experience and skills to the role — as the solution.

Wouter goes on to highlight the distinct benefits of this emerging and accelerating trend:

“The benefits in the post-pandemic workforce (and this labor market) are substantial. A fractional leader brings more objectivity — a fresher, outside perspective — to the table with regards to their subject matter expertise and experience managing and leading teams within different company cultures. This leader also has a unique opportunity to challenge the status quo on how things have been done, in addition to the often-larger amount of scalability experience they come with from an operational and financial perspective.”

While many organizations already have a position on their leadership team dedicated to growth (e.g. CGO, CMO, CRO, or EVP/SVP Sales, etc.), other firms operate under the premise that growth is everyone’s responsibility. The risk with the latter approach is best summarized with the old saying: If everybody is responsible, nobody is responsible.

I strongly advise against falling into this trap. Now is the time to fear the status quomore thanchange!

If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that business resilienceis predicated on the willingness of teams to adapt and rapidly innovate. The firms that survive and, ultimately, thrive will be the ones that embrace organizational agility, identify and prioritize revenue opportunities, and act with urgency.

This is why I believe a fractional CGO will prove to be a valuable asset for so many companies.

To quickly assess whether this emerging model could benefit your business, I’ve created a decision tree with three (3) core YES/NO questions, and one (1) conditional YES/NO follow-up question:

figure 1 — fractional CGO Fit assessment

1) Is growth important to you?

This is the absolute starting point for the decision tree. And, no — it’s not a trick question… For extra credit, jot down the initial thoughts that come to mind as you consider your response to this first question:

· Why is growth important?

· What is your vision of the opportunity?

· What are the anchors holding you back?

These insights provide foundational building blocks toward creating a shared vision for success with your fractional CGO partner, should you get to that step.

On the other hand, if you determine growth is not important — for any number of reasons — what better way to cut to the chase with the very first question.

2) Do you have the right person in place to lead and optimize your growth system?

Even though this is also a simple YES / NO question, there are a few important concepts in it that are important to unpack:

· right person= having both the right capabilities and availabilities

· lead and optimize= will what got you here, get you there (thinking back to your vision for growth in response to question #1)

· growth system= a holistic approach to growth that takes into consideration key interdisciplinarylinkages between People, Process, and Platforms

Of the three (3) core questions, question #2 is the most qualitative and open to interpretation. So it’s important to be honest and thoughtful when answering this question. Here are a few things to keep in mind when thinking through your response to this question:

· Start with the end in mind. Meaning, envision the level of growth activity your firm needs to achieve your goals, not just the current level of demand/activity you currently have…

· Evaluate both the KNOWING and DOING. For example, you’re looking for the type of knowledge and action illustrated in my recent post: 4 considerations for growth planning.

If you find yourself struggling with this question and perhaps find the concept of installing a growth system intriguing, but you’re not sure if it’s the right priority for your firm now — I recommend taking a moment to plot where your firm falls on my Growth Maturity Matrix.

figure 2 — fractional CGO Fit assessment (conditional capacity constraint: Yes/No)

For those that answer with a resounding “yes” to this question, there’s a conditional follow-up question to determine whether surges in demand (e.g., running multiple big pitches in parallel) or bandwidth constraints (e.g., anything from special projects such as M&A to personal situations) ever constrain your growth capacity.

Since the fractional CGO model can be aligned at both short and long-term needs, it begs the question:

“Could having additional growth capacity ready to unleash, benefit your business?”

3) Are there any challenges hiring your ideal candidate or with them starting immediately?

For some, answering the questions in this assessment confirm a decision you had already arrived at — hire a growth leader to run and/or build your growth team. However, since business is dynamic (particularly in professional services), the assumptions your previous decision was based on may have changed.

· Are you still in a position to make the offer to your preferred full-time candidate (or did actual revenues not live up to the plan)?

· Is your candidate still available and ready to accept your offer (or did conditions on their end change and you need to keep searching)?

Others may find themselves in the position to put forward the offer to a qualified candidate, however this pending hire may now be looking to delay their start for several weeks to ensure they don’t lose out on a large bonus or commission payment, further delaying the acceleration of your firm’s growth.

I’m a good candidate, now what?

If the fractional CGO Fit assessment indicates your firm is a good candidate for this model, let’s talk. Please contact me so we can discuss your starting point and your vision for the future.

I’m excited to learn about your business and align with you on whether I have both the right capabilities and availabilities to help achieve your objectives.

NOTE: This article is also published on my website blog.

I help companies grow (to learn more: www.delage.biz), dad of 2 teens, and husband of 1 very patient woman... Additional musings can be found on Twitter @Sauld