Living in a Post-strategy World
Technological innovation has ensured that today (the day you read this) is the fastest day you have ever experienced in respect of the pace of change. By the same token, it is the slowest you will likely ever face again (subject to continuing energy availability or mankind’s curiosity in respect of testing the mutually assured destruction hypothesis).
There comes a point when the pace of change is such that:
- The Harvard Business Review appears to be constantly playing catch up rather than shaping market thinking.
- The half-life of a Boston matrix is such that their rate of decay is causing the management consulting market to implode.
- Gartner conference programme agendas are advertised the day after the event.
- MBA faculty servers crash under the weight of near real-time case study production.
- The name of this blog is as anachronous as the name IBM or Computercenter.
- Strategy starts to merge with tactics given the time horizon-shrinkage beyond which lies middle earth / fantasy.
So, as we see, the business world is changing forever.
The question then is how does one adjust?
I would suggest that it might be better to view your organisation as less of a legal entity and more of a portfolio of experiments, or bets. Each bet is a hypothesis on how you believe the market will behave. For example:
- There is a demand for electric sports cars.
- Robots with surly dispositions will outsell ‘have nice day’ service bots.
- The integration of the drone and the home furniture markets will revolutionise short haul luxury travel.
Some bets will be big, in that it will be costly if you are wrong, but hopefully very worthwhile if you win. The key skill will be in how quickly you can discover whether your hypothesis is true or false. Those that can find out soonest, will lose the least money.
Convening market research groups, running surveys or an Adwords campaign won’t cut it. The sentiment of the curious is not always reflective of actual buyers. Thus you need to get something into the market very quickly and then watch what happens with the acuity of a hawk on Red Bull.
And it’s not just vision. All the senses need to be engaged. This is where analytics, social media and the Internet of Things converge.
- Analytics: To lift the signals out of the noise.
- Social media: This is where humans do what humans do.
- The Internet of Things: The use of sensors will help you gather data ranging from wearable devices on the user to embedded devices in the prototype.
Organisations that lack environmental attentiveness, which by the way is not agility or anticipation, will suffer the same fate as any species that becomes decoupled from reality.
It is not simply a case of investing in these three levers. The underlying IT infrastructure needs to be in shape (note to the CIO). Culturally the organisation needs to truly embrace, learning, decision making, creativity, failure and the ability to ship, ie get things off the drawing board, out of the meeting room and into the market.
One might argue that when it comes to strategy, getting your organisation in shape for a post-strategy world is the only strategy worth pursuing.