Name: Bob Heckman
Title: Chief Growth Officer, Thomas Group
Has Held Title For: 9 months
With the Company For: 9 months
Last Job: Director of Marketing, Andersen Consulting
Degree: BS, Journalism
Not long after his arrival at Thomas Group Inc., an Irving, Texas-based consulting firm, Bob Heckman's colleagues dubbed him the "Idea Man." His official title is Chief Growth Officer for the publicly traded firm, which counts Polaroid, Rubbermaid, and Siemens among its clients. Heckman's mandate? To introduce ever more creative ways to grow better — not just bigger.
Why does a company need a chief growth officer?
The title breaks down organizational silos. Having one person in charge of all-around growth helps you to look at business processes holistically. I blend the fuel that drives the company's growth.
How do you define growth?
Not just by revenue or profit. I look at "markets" while other people look at "the market." I focus on developing markets where my company should be the best choice.
What does it take to lead growth?
An open and discerning mind. You must excite people in the way you present ideas — you need to paint tomorrow's world.
What specifically do you grow?
I grow ideas. That entails creating new products, finding new ways to repackage old products, or just enhancing relationships.
What is your greatest challenge
Growing when the market isn't. You can't cut your way to growth. It requires ingenuity and a willingness to ask unconventional questions.
Is there such a thing as too much growth?
Yes. People begin to expect growth that's unsustainable. Evenutally even Microsoft will slow down and then their stock will take a pounding. It's important to set realistic growth goals and communicate them to employees, customers, and stockholders.
A version of this article appeared in the Feb/Mar 1997 issue of Fast Company magazine.