Strategic Path Options: AAA or Death Row
It is popular to talk about agile businesses. The ability to zig and zag with the increasingly unreadable market is infinitely better than having one’s organisational head buried in the sand, or pressing on with the strategy that has, at great expense, been emblazoned on every wall of the business.
But agility is really a reactive response. The grizzly bear in front of you is up on his hind legs eyeing up lunch. You had better move quickly, and in a manner that will keep you off the menu.
Wouldn’t it be better to be keeping a look out for grizzlies? If you see one on the horizon, you can skedaddle, thus avoiding the lunchtime rendezvous. One might say that this requires an anticipatory approach. Being anticipatory leads to smarter decisions. You see, and thus act, on opportunities and threats in a timely manner. Perhaps even before your competitors realise what is happening?
But we live in an environment where the threats and opportunities are evolving and morphing. We cannot rely on the old catalogue. If you spend all day anticipating a grizzly, you are unlikely to detect the snake that is about to descend from the branch above you with the sole purpose of acting like a (very) ill-fitting scarf. So being anticipatory is not enough.
When threats and opportunities manifest themselves in unpredictable ways, it pays to be attentive. This requires a soft rather than laser focus. Attentive organisations are highly sensitive to their environments. Their ‘sensors’ are tuned to process high volumes of data in real-time, identifying signals, no matter how weak, that might represent emerging opportunities or threats.
Thus organisations in the digital age need to not only be agile, but anticipatory and attentive. If your organisation has all three, it is a triple A investment. If it has none, it needs to update its registered postal address to Death Row.