Growth is back on the agenda. It’s the increasingly prominent topic of discussion at board meetings, executive sessions, and corporate retreats. Executives recognize that, with cost savings intrinsically limited, long-term financial performance hinges on improving the top line.

But although companies find it more advantageous to pay attention to revenue growth, very few do it well — mostly because they are not confident about what initiatives will drive successful and profitable growth. Many companies find it difficult to deliver and sustain growth in the face of greater competition and commoditization. In fact, in the long term, few companies have outpaced the growth inherent in inflation and population increases. Because of this, they’re often driven to seek growth in risky, and usually disappointing, acquisitions.

But what if the problem — the stagnation that leads businesses to attempt desperate measures — was partly a matter of misunderstanding? What if there was a known inherent growth rate for any given portfolio of businesses? If so, then companies could achieve profitability, and outsiders could evaluate companies more accurately, by developing a clearer awareness of a company’s real-world potential.

Get the full story at strategy+business