Monday, 22 of September of 2014

Category » Adaptive Strategy

New Year = New Book + New Offerings + New Office

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OK, this is shameless self-promotion, but I have to say that I’m really looking forward to the challenges of 2010.

New Book: My friend Leo Hopf and I have finished the final rewrite on our strategy book that will be published in May or June of this year. ReThink, ReInvent, RePosition: 12 Strategies to Make Over Your Existing Business has been in the works for a while and our publisher moved it to the front burner. The timing is perfect for companies as they come out of the current recession.

New Offerings: I’ve been facilitating workshops focused on critical and strategic thinking for about six years now. I’ve added two workshops to my offerings.

  • Making and Influencing Better Business Decisions is the “follow-up” to the strategic thinking workshop.
  • ReThink, ReInvent, RePosition is a one or two day workshop exploring the twelve strategies and challenge of changing an ongoing business.

New Office: The southwest has appealed to me for quite some time, so I’m adding an office in Tucson, Arizona. Now all I have to do is build a book of business.


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Consequences of not worrying about the future

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I just finished reading an article from the July-August issue of Harvard Business Review that I found  frightening and thought provoking. The article is about Global Competitiveness — but the sub-title is what caught my eye — WHY AMERICA CAN’T MAKE A KINDLE. Although the Kindle was designed in California, the important components are made in China, Taiwan, and South Korea and the entire unit is assembled in China. Consider the major components:

  • The battery comes from China  — When America outsourced laptop computers to Asia we gave up on battery technology
  • The display comes from Taiwan — We no longer have the expertise because we gave up flat panel LCD manufacturing to Asia.
  • The wireless card is made in Korea — the Korean mobile phone industry is more advanced than ours, so the latest advances in wireless technolgy come from there.
  • The injection-molded case comes from China — We don’t have much of this capability left inasmuch as we have outsourced most toys, consumer electronics, and computers to Asia.

We have focused on the short-term and “shareholder value” for the past fifteen years or so. But we have neglected to consider the long term sustainability of our manufacturing base. We have deluded ourselves into thinking that we can be a service economy (What !? Selling sub-prime mortgages to one another?) and that only we have “imagination” for the next great thing. I think that both of these assumptions are frightfully weak.

Frankly, I don’t know what to suggest except to say that all of us need to worry about our knowledge base and our collective willingness to mortgage our future for “every day low prices.” That said, there are NO short-term solutions. We need to rebuild our expertise so that we have the competitive advantage here at home to make some of the things we want to buy.

What do you think? Am I being a crabby old man and too narrow-minded or am I right to be worried about our future?


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Creative Destruction and the need for an adaptive strategy

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Creative destruction is the term that the economist Joseph Schumpter gave to the reality of industry mutation and innovation. These changes simultaneously provide opportunities and destroy opportunities and, consequently, some companies are destroyed and others are created. And although we can easily see the effects after the fact, the real challenge is to change in time to avoid the destruction or take advantage of the opportunities.

If we knew how fast an industry was going to change it would be easy to adapt in time — but that’s the real problem. Change seems to have accelerated in the past few years and many leaders and their organizations are taking too long to adapt. Some are waiting for “normal” conditions to reappear. Others want more data to be sure of the changes. Unfortunately, both parties are waiting in vain. All we know for sure is that the future will be different.

Take a hard look at your company or your career and the answer the hard question — “What will you HAVE to change if you are going to adapt to the evolving reality?” Then answer the even harder question — “Can you move fast enough?”


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Adaptive Strategy Checklist

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I make my living facilitating workshops for businesses and every now and then I need to give away simple tools. In these days of economic uncertainty I want my clients to make sure that they are adapting their organization’s strategy fast enough to keep up with real change. Consider using the following tool at your next meeting.

RED LIGHT / YELLOW LIGHT / GREEN LIGHT

See if you can assign “stop-light” colors to the following five statements. Reds have to be addressed right away and Yellow needs attention. However, if something is Green you may be wasting your time trying to make it greener.

  1. The vision, values, and goals of our organization are reasonable in light of today’s economy and are understood across the organization.
  2. We regularly “reflect on reality” to uncover real issues and trends and to anticipate the future.
  3. We think critically and strategically about the future, challenging our assumptions and considering multiple points of view.
  4. We are capable of timely decision making and allow mid-level managers and those “closest to the action” to influence the decision process.
  5. Once a decision has been made we act effectively and efficiently to carry it out.

These are my five basic questions. What does your color pallet look like?

What questions do you ask? Or do you think the future will be like the past?


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Adaptive Strategy — now more than ever

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I named my business Adaptive Strategies in the early 1990s in response to an economic downturn. As they say, what’s old becomes new again. That said, the reality of our world is that we have always had to adapt. The problem is that too many people are waiting for “normal” to return. It never will.

Adapting is not an option; it separates the winners from the losers. Just think about past inflection points and those who did and did not adapt.

  • Electronics in the 1950s — from vacuum tubes to transisters
  • Aircraft in the 1960s — from turboprop to jets
  • Autos in the 1980 — from quality vs. price to quality at every price
  • Internet in the 1990s — from bricks and mortar to bricks and clicks

Think this “adaptation thing” only applies to businesses? I was a darn good Fortran programmer in the 1970s. Anybody want to hire me today?

Look at your career and your business. To what do you have to adapt? Are you adapting fast enough?


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