5 Ideas On The Future of Business Strategy

5 Steps to the Ultimate Business Strategyi.  Everyone’s connected.

Business strategy traditionally came from the smartest people in the room, the executive team, the bosses and when they needed help they turned to incredibly expensive consultants to build a brilliant foolproof plan. Everyone at the top laughed all the way to the bank. If the plan failed it was the consultants fault, if the plan succeeded it was the executives’ idea all along. Rarely does centralized, autocratic, command and control leadership work anymore.

The further down the hierarchy you push decision makingSmarter Faster Cheaper, the more efficient your company will be in the future. Welcome to the Smarter, Faster, Cheaper  era of business.

At the current cost of communication you can’t afford not to engage all employees at every level of your company to come up with ideas and truly be brand ambassadors.

Enter the internet and the speed of the new business cycle. Huge corporations that stood the test of time, or so we thought, crumbled to the ground on account of oneThe Innovators Dilemma disruptive innovation after another.

That’s what it is you see, disruptive technology and innovation side-swipe industries and displace entire business categories (See blacksmiths, record stompers, video rental industry, ).
This is a very important concept in business, I highly recommend reading Clayton M. Christensen’s The Innovator’s Dilemma for a more in-depth explanation of disruptive innovation versus incremental innovation.

Each innovation displaces the current technology.

Records < 8 Tracks < Cassette Tapes < Compact Discs < MP3 Players < your phone

ii.  Invent the future.

The only way to horde off a competitor developing the product or service to displace your current offerings is to learn more faster. As Steve Jobs put it, “we must cannibalize our own products, if we don’t, someone else will.”

If you innovate faster than your competition they don’t have much of a competitive advantage do they?

The Lean StartUp by eric riesEric Ries in the Lean Startup says “the companies that learn the fastest will win”.

It’s not just learning faster. You must apply what you are learning as well.

When Jack Welsh became CEO of GE the first things he did was he got to know “who” General Electric really was by meeting more that 3500 employees. Talking to them, sharing the vision, and acquiring feedback.

How would you lead a company without understanding what makes the company tick on an intimate level? Jack knew exactly what he was doing. What a brilliant way to begin your reign as CEO.

The more people you talk to before you finalize your strategy, the better the plan will take into account truly what your brand is. When approaching your brand the last thing you want to do is assume it is something. If your lowest paid employee completely disagrees with what your brand consultant or agency is telling you, I’m sorry but your employee isn’t wrong. You are.

iii.  Be a smarter manager.

If you give people “work” to do, they will figure out the minimal amount of effort that needs to be exerted to produce the expected result. If you give people a “challenge”, they will put in whatever amount of effort is necessary to achieve or surpass the challenge.

When employees feel they are a part of the team, when they have some skin in the game, it’s not just “work” anymore, it’s where they go to be creative, to help achieve a common goal, where they can achieve flow.

gamestorming-a-playbook-for-innovators-rulebreakers-and-changemakersGame mechanics work well in the work place, not many argue that. Implementing game-storming as a way to engage employees at work isn’t easy but a very proactive and fun way to allow employees have some say in future decisions and planning.

The future of business strategy is the humanization of business. The shrinking of the power divide between the top and the bottom of the work force. The more businesses that actually care about employee well-being the better off our world will be.

iv.  We’re living in an age of extreme transparency.

It’s all those things you thought were extremely important in business but no textbook in school would tell you. Yes being friends with your employees is fine, it’s actually better than fine. After all, nice companies do finish first.nice-companies-finish-first

As I see it, the only way to really make it today in our light speed world of real time everything is to be wildly open to feedback and to trust your employees more and more to do the right thing. You can’t have a command and control ethos anymore, it won’t work. Unless you’re planning on employing all Gen-Xers (good luck with that).

Coming to an understanding that you aren’t going to be right about everything and that you’re going to need to change to be around in the future is a monumental first step. Admitting that you need help is the first step on the road to amazing results.

v.  The highest form of management is asking for feedback and then acting upon it.

Most managers and department heads don’t actually want to know what some customers and employees think of them. The truth hurts and they don’t want to hear it, they’re not prepared to change. When you refuse to take feedback it’s pretty hard to get any better.

The only way to grow is to find your shortcomings and try to fix them. Try your best to put your ego aside and listen to what others have to say, actually ask your Ultimate Question 2.0employees and customers how they feel about youNet Promoter Score (NPS) was developed by Fred Reichheld and Bain & Company, it’s a simple but very effective way to measure customer satisfaction. Do you have the courage to ask your employees  how they honestly feel about you? Do you know what your customers say about your company?

Right now at the speed business and technology are evolving it’s difficult to keep up on a good day. The only thing you can rely on is that things are going to change. To better equip yourself to make future decisions why wouldn’t you want feedback from your employees and customers? The more information you have the smarter you’ll be in the future.

i.  Everyone’s connected.
ii.  Invent the future.
iii.  Be a smarter manager.
iv.  We’re living in an age of extreme transparency.
v.  The highest form of management is asking for feedback and then acting upon it.

 

If you need some resources (202 questions to be exact) to help you craft your strategy go check out what we’ve put together here: strategy Lab’s helpful resources.