With the end of 2012 just over the horizon and the awareness of 2013 on the rise, everyone is starting to create special task forces and committees to envision the future. Furthermore, most senior executives are waking up to the need for their company to be more customer centric and more innovative. They know they need to compete better externally and collaborate better internally. The result of all this work is the development of many in-depth concept papers which will redesign the entire business from the supply chain straight through to the product and service delivery.
Whenever one of my clients comes to me and talks about creating a future oriented team which will completely redesign the business, I always recommend we have a good long visit to review some key points.
First, I point out that the desire to change has to be matched by the capacity to change. Improving current execution and transforming the business are not the same thing. They require completely different skill sets and different time frames.
Second, I explain that everything begins and ends with the customer. Many businesses do not know their current customers, e.g. are they a one time buyer, repeat buyer, or loyal user? Furthermore, some companies assume that their customers are not making the right choices. Some do not even know if the relationship with the customer is healthy and whether or not it creates value in the eyes of the customer.
Third, I remind them of something that A.G. Lafley and Ram Charan wrote about in their book, The Game-Changer: How You Can Drive Revenue and Profit Growth With Innovation (Crown Business, 2008). As they note, “...doing innovation right means developing a repeatable, scalable, and consistent way of converting ideas into results. It requires a degree of standardization so that others can imitate the model and improve on it.” As I have learned over time, most new models for the future are neither scalable or consistent. Many do not have a degree of standardization.
Building a committee to envision the future is very exciting and noteworthy. And now is a good time to begin. The key this week is to design the process in such a manner that it is successful over time and will result in sustainable organic growth. This is not easy but it is important.