When I teach the From Vision to Action Leadership Training, I routinely point out that people in leadership positions need to deal with the day to day problems, upgrade current operations to meet future customer needs, and figure out the right strategy given the emerging trends. In the midst of all this work, they also need to zoom out and look at the whole picture rather the current technical or adaptive problems before them.
When we step back and look at the bigger picture, we come to understand that figuring out the future is more than just investing in R&D or talking about innovation. Instead, it means we need to examine the entire business model, and ask ourselves an important question: Are we positioned correctly to win in an ever changing market place?
By answering the question, we must also recognize that the success of our day to day tactics must be infused with a cultural drive to constantly improve because this is the true definition of operational excellence.
When we do this big picture thinking, we understand one simple fact. Under every business there are problems. As Mark Bertolini, David Duncan and Andrew Waldeck wrote in their article called “Knowing When to Reinvent” in the December 2015 issue of the Harvard Business Review, there are five interrelated “fault lines.”
First, are we meeting the right need of our customers? We need to recognize that the functional, social, or emotional needs of our different customers may be changing.
Second, are we using the right performance metrics? Current and future metrics need to be consistent with what the customer values.
Third, are we properly positioned within our industry? We need to remember that certain customers may be bringing your services in-house or outsourcing them to new kinds of competitors.
Fourth, are we using the right business model to compete against emerging rivals and the changing needs of our customers? The way we make money must be aligned with how value is created for the customer.
Fifth, do we have employees and partners who possess the required competencies and capabilities to meet the current and future needs of our customers? As we all know, fulfilling the changing needs of customers will require new skills to be brought on board
As I noted at the Fall 2015 From Vision to Action Executive Roundtable, successful business during the next three to five years will need to be the following:
- nimble - “able to learn and understand things quickly and easily”
- agile - “move quickly and easily”
- flexible - “willing to change and try new things”
Therefore, on a routine basis, leaders need to step back from the daily issues and check the fault lines under their business and ask themselves if they are prepared and ready to transform their business model. This is the only way to be ready for evolution or revolution.