Technological progress and disruption are rapidly
Product and company lifespans are shrinking.
High economic, political, and competitive
uncertainty is conspicuous and likely to persist for the
Multiple trends will define Business Competition in
These trends are confronting companies with fundamentally new competitive
imperatives that challenge traditional managerial capabilities:
1. Increasing the rate of organizational learning
2. Leveraging multicompany ecosystems
3. Spanning both the physical and the digital world
4. Imagining and harnessing new ideas
5. Achieving resilience in the face of uncertainty
Here are six steps leaders can take to reinvent the enterprise as a next-generation learning
organization founded on continuous innovation and sustainable growth:
- Adopt technologies for seamless learning
Leverage AI and advanced analytics to create integrated learning loops in which machines use continuous feedback to act, learn, and adapt on their own without the bottleneck of human intervention.
- Integrate machines and humans
Upskill the workforce to focus people on higher-level cognitive skills that technology cannot provide; maximize synergies between machines and humans.
- Embrace new ways of working
Recognize the work around a network of empowered teams designed for agility and innovation.
- Commit to „always-on“ transformation
Build capabilities for ongoing large-scale change to keep up with evolving technology and competition.
- Make diversity a business requirement
Encourage a range of voices and perspectives to better innovate, take risks, solve problems creatively, bounce back from failures, and turn challenges into opportunities.
- Combine business and social value
Join legitimacy from investors, customers, and the public, and earn „the right to operate“, by delivering total social impact, the capacity to create social as well as economic value.
Business is dominated more and more by digital platforms, which do not respect industry boundaries. You may believe that you are competing with a handful of large companies that make similar products, whereas your customers’ expectations may be shaped by leading digital competitors in other industries. By focusing on outperforming your direct competitors and introducing best practices from within your industry, you may be setting your sights too low and making yourself vulnerable to disruption by challengers with more-compelling value propositions.
Asking your customers what they want, or even measuring accurately what they are buying or browsing, may not be sufficiently forward-looking to compete with your fiercest rivals. Analyzing and addressing the friction costs in your customers’ end-to-end processes, and surprising and delighting them by solving for these before customers can articulate the need, is a bolder and more effective way of looking ahead and maintaining your edge.
Take a fresh look at your business, geography, product, and customer portfolios to understand where the best opportunities for creating and exploiting advantage lie. Ask yourself if the balance between growth and cash flow is sustainable, whether you should be investing more in growth, and whether there are positions you should be turning around or exiting. Analysis of corporate vitality suggests that many established companies are driving short-run performance at the expense of long-term growth, exposing themselves to the risk of stagnation and decline.
Defying the average begins with a clear articulation of what is unique about a company and the value it can deliver. Look at your purpose, vision statement, and strategy with a skeptical eye and ask yourself whether a reasonable person could identify the specific industry, let alone the specific company, to which it pertains. By sharpening the articulation of what makes them different, companies can create a better foundation for an attractive strategy.
Setting unreasonable goals can force imaginative thinking and the identification of new opportunities for being exceptional. It is impossible to stretch one’s strategy without first stretching one’s thinking. Use strategy games like “destroy your business,” “think like a maverick,” and “friction destroyer” to identify opportunities for creating uniqueness.