Being a Digital Disruptor - Insights from the 2016 Volaris Academy

December 13, 2016 Brian Beattie

Measure. Share. Learn – these are the three pillars of our annual Volaris Academy. For the Academy, we bring together our leaders and up and coming employees to share best practices, learn new techniques from outside speakers, and network with colleagues from around the globe.

We’ve been running the Academy now for about a decade and we just finished up this year’s in Pasadena, California. Over 350 people were in attendance from 18 countries and 39 different business units, split between two tracks: execution and growth.

The execution track focused on strategies that would help a business unit maintain efficient operations while the growth track looked at ways each company can increase their organic growth and invest in M&A activity.

It was an intense week of learning, but our participants left with new tactics and knowledge that they will bring to their roles and organizations. Here are some of the key takeaways from the 2016 Volaris Academy.


1. Fix Your Business First Before You Grow It

The first thing that businesses should focus on is having efficient operations. If a company tries to grow before strong processes are in place, they are in danger of two things: 1) not providing their existing customers value before focusing on new customers and 2) acquiring companies that are inefficiently run.  

We’ve found that when companies that are underperforming engage in acquisitions, they tend to buy lower performing businesses compared to companies that have efficient operations. Therefore, only once they are running optimally, then can business units look at growing organically and deploying capital for acquisitions.


2. Weaker Performers Reduce the Effectiveness of Stronger Performers

We tend to think that star employees will bring up underperformers but that’s often not the case. Instead what happens is that those stellar employees spend more time over compensating for their weaker teammates so their performance suffers.

The solution? First, coach the underperformers and help them improve. If you find that the underperformers are not in the right role, move them somewhere else that will suit their strengths. People want to do well so chances are they are not under performing on purpose. Sometimes people aren’t in the right role or given the right goals that will allow them to thrive. If the person still isn’t meeting expectations after coaching and moving into to a different role, then you should consider letting the employee go.


3. Scale is Overrated

Businesses that operate in vertical markets target a niche set of customers and customer pain points – that’s what differentiates them from horizontal markets. As such, we believe that a dedicated smaller team focused on a segment of a vertical market will almost always trump a larger team serving multiple segments of a vertical market.

Smaller teams have the tendency to be more agile and responsive to their customers’ needs. The more niche and focused we go, the better we can serve our customers and deliver a superior solution.


Navigating Digital Disruption

With our strong focus on developing initiatives to achieve organic growth, we thought it was only fitting to have Geoffrey Moore speak as our keynote presenter. Moore’s pivotal work, Crossing the Chasm, looks at the typical product life cycle and how companies can get their products into the hands of the majority so that it becomes profitable.

Geoffrey Moore’s keynote focused on digital disruption. Utilizing concepts from Crossing the Chasm and his latest book, Zone to Win, Moore explained how to organize your company to be a disrupter and how to get your disrupting technology to enter the mainstream market.

It was a privilege to hear Geoffrey speak and we appreciate the time he spent with our group. If you haven’t read any of Geoffrey’s books yet, I highly recommend that you pick one up.


Your Turn

What are your thoughts on these takeaways? Will you use them in your business? Let us know on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ or Facebook, and subscribe to our blog if you found this interesting. 

About the Author

Brian Beattie

Brian Beattie is the Chief Financial Officer at Volaris Group. Besides overseeing the financial health of the company, he works closely with Volaris’ legal and M&A team on all new acquisitions. Brian is an expert on every stage of the M&A process – from sending out the non-disclosure agreement to executing the sales purchase agreement.

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