Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Evaluating three strategies for survival.

Post 379 - When living with continuous change, it seems to me there are at least three ways to develop strategies for survival and success:

1. Plan for the predictable.

Study the latest developments in your industry. Learn what your competitors are doing. You can find this out from suppliers, customers, previous employees, consultants, websites, trade shows and trade magazines. Study demographic and economic forecasts and monitor announcements about relevant new technologies. Then plan to take prompt action based on trends that appear self-evident from a review of all these data.

The good news is that you can stay up-to-date this way. The bad news is you'll never get ahead of your competition. What's evident to you will be obvious to many others as well. And once others see you make a novel move, since they have the same capabilities that you have, they'll rush to copy it. So, this represents a necessary but not a sufficient strategy for industry leadership.

2. Plan for the unpredictable.

In a world where uncertainty is the only certainty, you're bound to face unanticipated developments and surprises. As a result, only the most adaptable and flexible organizations will survive and prosper. Incremental change, by itself, will no longer be enough. The organization structures that are right for today will likely be wrong for tomorrow. Sustained success will require harnessing creative initiatives that transform as well as adjust. Winning structures will move away from complex vertical organizations built from simple building blocks to simpler, flatter organizations built from ever more complex building blocks.

Smart companies don't try to respond to every fluctuation in the marketplace. Instead they try to spot what's really important to achieve their goals and focus their time and resources on these factors. They work on influencing their future by continually adjusting their organizations to eliminate weaknesses and exploit opportunities. The most successful managers will make their share of mistakes, but they'll quickly learn to fine-tune their intuition.

3. Create your own future.

Unconventional market-leading businesses seldom come from looking only at existing business models. Instead, they redefine them in terms of needs and benefits rather than in terms of products and customers. Here, the secret is to anticipate your customers needs and to organize to meet them in ways that your competitors can't match easily or quickly.

More on this tomorrow.

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