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jerryking : irrelevance   9

Business leaders are blinded by industry boundaries
April 22, 2019 | Financial Times | Rita McGrath.

Why is it so hard for executives to anticipate the major shifts that can determine the destiny of their organisations? Andy Grove called these moments “strategic inflection points”. For some, he wrote, “That change can mean an opportunity to rise to new heights. But it may just as likely signal the beginning of the end.”

Industry leaders would do well to focus on productive opportunities, even when they lie outside a fairly well-bounded industry. Want to survive a strategic inflection point? Stop focusing on traditional metrics and find new customer needs that your organisation can uniquely address.

Why do business leaders so often miss these shifts? Successful companies such as BlackBerry maker Research In Motion and Nokia did not heed the early signs of a move to app-based smartphones. Video rental chain Blockbuster failed to acquire Netflix when it had the chance, in 2000.

Senior people rise to the top by mastering management of the KPIs in that sector. This, in turn, shapes how they look at the world. The problem is a strategic inflection point can occur and render the reference points they have developed obsolete. Take traditional retail. Its key metrics have to do with limited real estate, such as sales per square metre. Introduce the internet and those measures are useless. And yet traditional systems, rewards and measures are all built around them.....British economist Edith Penrose grasped this crucial link, she asked, “What is an industry?” In her studies, executives did not confine themselves to single industries, they expanded into any market where their business might find profitable growth.

Consider the energy sector: Historically, most power generators and utilities were heavily regulated...The sector’s suppliers likewise expected steady demand and a quiet life....that business has been rocked by slow-moving shifts many players talked about, but did not act upon. The rise of distributed energy generation, the maturing of renewable technology, increased conservation and new rules have eroded the traditional model. Many failed to heed the warnings. In 2015, General Electric spent about $10bn to acquire Alstom’s power business. Finance chief Jeff Bornstein crowed at the time that it could be GE’s best acquisition ever. Blinded by traditional metrics, GE doubled down on fossil-fuel-fired turbines just as renewables were becoming cost competitive.

Consider razor blades: Procter & Gamble’s Gillette brand of razors had long enjoyed a competitive advantage. For decades, the company had invested in developing premium products, charged premium prices, invested heavily in marketing and used its clout to get those razors into every traditional retail outlet. A new breed of online rivals such as Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s have upended that model, reselling outsourced razors that were “good enough” and cheaper, online via a subscription model that attracted younger, economically pressured customers...... Rather than fork out for elaborate marketing, the upstarts enlisted YouTube and Facebook influencers to get the word out.
Andy_Grove  BlackBerry  blindsided  Blockbuster  brands  cost-consciousness  customer_insights  Dollar_Shave_Club  executive_management  GE  Gillette  good_enough  Harry's  industries  industry_boundaries  inflection_points  Intel  irrelevance  KPIs  metrics  millennials  movingonup  myopic  obsolescence  out-of-the-box  P&G  power_generation  retailers  reward_systems  sales_per_square_foot  shifting_tastes  slowly_moving  warning_signs 
april 2019 by jerryking
The Globe and Mail’s Self-Sabotage
SEP. 1, 2017 | The Walrus | BY LAUREN MCKEON.

By firing two popular female columnists in a bid to save money, our newspaper of record may pay a bigger price: its increasing irrelevance.....The idea that the paper belongs to its male readers and its male journalists appears so deeply ingrained in the Globe—and Canadian media—that it has become utterly unremarkable. Of the Globe’s remaining columnists—that we know of, at least—fifteen are men and seven are women. As has been previously reported, they are all overwhelmingly white. And it doesn’t help matters that of the ten editors on the Globe’s masthead, only three are women.
But this goes beyond questions of representation. The Globe isn’t merely failing women; it’s failing, period. Just days before news of Southey and McLaren leaked, the Globe had been busy shrinking other sections of the newspaper. When it comes to the paper’s weekday print edition, management decided to keep the Globe’s news and business sections as standalones, but sports, as well as life and arts coverage, will no longer exist as their own territories— they’ll be folded into the other two. This, in turn, comes on the heels of a decision to cut the paper’s Atlantic print edition for the end of November. If Canada’s paper of record is in survival mode, then, I’m curious: who exactly is it surviving for?
Globe_&_Mail  firings  women  self-sabotage  newspapers  irrelevance  Leah_McLaren 
october 2017 by jerryking
The path to enlightenment and profit starts inside the office
(Feb. 2, 2016): The Financial Times | John Thornhill.

Competition used to be easy. That is in theory, if not always in practice. Until recently, most competent companies had a clear idea of who their rivals were, how to compete and on what field to fight.

One of the starkest - and scariest - declarations of competitive intent came from Komatsu, the Japanese construction equipment manufacturer, in the 1970s. As employees trooped into work they would walk over doormats exhorting: "Kill Caterpillar!". Companies benchmarked their operations and market share against their competitors to see where they stood.

But that strategic clarity has blurred in so many industries today to the point of near-invisibility thanks to the digital revolution and globalisation. Flying blind, companies seem happier to cut costs and buy back their shares than to invest purposefully for the future. Take the European telecommunications sector. Not long ago most telecoms companies were national monopolies with little, or no, competition. Today, it is hard to predict where the next threat is going to erupt.

WhatsApp, the California-based messaging service, was founded in 2009 and only registered in most companies' consciousness when it was acquired by Facebook for more than $19bn in 2014. Yet in its short life WhatsApp has taken huge bites out of the lucrative text messaging markets. Today, WhatsApp has close to 1bn users sending 30bn messages a day. The global SMS text messaging market is just 20bn a day.

Car manufacturers are rapidly wising up to the threat posed by new generation tech firms, such as Tesla, Google and Uber, all intent on developing "apps on wheels". Chinese and Indian companies, little heard of a few years ago, are bouncing out of their own markets to emerge as bold global competitors.

As the driving force of capitalism , competition gives companies a purpose, a mission and a sense of direction. But how can companies compete in such a shape-shifting environment? There are perhaps two (partial) answers.

The first is to do everything to understand the technological changes that are transforming the world, to identify the threats and opportunities early.

Gavin Patterson , chief executive of BT, the British telecoms group, says one of the functions of corporate leaders is to scan the horizon as never before. "As a CEO you have to be on the bridge looking outwards, looking for signs that something is happening, trying to anticipate it before it becomes a danger."

To that end, BT has opened innovation "scouting teams" in Silicon Valley and Israel, and tech partnerships with universities in China, the US, Abu Dhabi, India and the UK.

But even if you foresee the danger, it does not mean you can deal with it. After all, Kodak invented the first digital camera but failed to exploit the technology. The incentive structures of many companies are to minimise risk rather than maximise opportunity. Innovation is often a young company's game.

The second answer is that companies must look as intensively inwards as they do outwards (e.g. opposing actions). Well-managed companies enjoy many advantages: strong brands, masses of consumer data, valuable historic data sets, networks of smart people and easy access to capital. But what is often lacking is the ambition that marks out the new tech companies, their ability to innovate rapidly and their extraordinary connection with consumers. In that sense, the main competition of so many established companies lies within their own organisations.

Larry Page, co-founder of Google, constantly urges his employees to keep being radical. In his Founders' Letter of 2013, he warned that companies tend to grow comfortable doing what they have always done and only ever make incremental change. "This . . . leads to irrelevance over time," he wrote.

Google operates a 70/20/10 rule where employees are encouraged to spend 70 per cent of their time on their core business, 20 per cent on working with another team and 10 per cent on moonshots. How many traditional companies focus so much on radical ventures?

Vishal Sikka, chief executive of the Indian IT group Infosys, says that internal constraints can often be far more damaging than external threats. "The traditional definition of competition is irrelevant. We are increasingly competing against ourselves," he says.

Quoting Siddhartha by the German writer Hermann Hesse, Mr Sikka argues that companies remain the masters of their own salvation whatever the market pressures: "Knowledge can be communicated. Wisdom cannot." He adds: "Every company has to find its own unique wisdom." [This wisdom reference is reminiscent of Paul Graham's advice to do things that don't scale].

john.thornhill@ft.com
ambitions  brands  breakthroughs  BT  bureaucracies  competition  complacency  constraints  Fortune_500  incentives  incrementalism  Infosys  innovation  introspection  irrelevance  large_companies  LBMA  messaging  mission-driven  Mondelez  moonshots  opposing_actions  organizational_culture  outward_looking  Paul_Graham  peripheral_vision  radical  risk-avoidance  scouting  smart_people  start_ups  staying_hungry  tacit_knowledge  technological_change  threats  uniqueness  unscalability  weaknesses  WhatsApp  wisdom  digital_cameras  digital_revolution  historical_data 
april 2016 by jerryking
Business clusters ‘irrelevant’ for innovation, study finds - The Globe and Mail
Naomi Powell
March 18, 2011
At some point, the “business cluster” emerged as a kind of silver bullet
for economically-challenged municipalities.

Find a way to put companies together in a single geographic area and
they will become each other’s customers, suppliers and collaborators.
Innovation, prosperity and jobs will follow.

A new study from Europe’s Centre for Economic Policy Research throws a
wrench into at least one part of that theory.

The analysis of 1,604 companies in the five largest Norwegian cities
found that regional and national clusters are “irrelevant for
innovation.” On the contrary, international cooperation or “global
pipelines” were identified as the main drivers of innovation.
michael_porter  economic_development  innovation  clusters  irrelevance  Norway 
march 2011 by jerryking
The parochialism of Little Canada is killing us
Dec. 17, 2010 | The Globe and Mail | Jeffrey Simpson. Big
Canada can be Ottawa acting alone, or Ottawa acting in harmony with
provinces, or the provinces working constructively together. There’s no
“one size fits all” definition of Big Canada in such a sprawling,
diverse country.

Little Canada is easy to define: parochialism working against other
parochialisms, or parochialism sharpening itself by working against
Ottawa, with provincial politicians appealing to the lowest common
denominator of local prejudices.

In a hypercompetitive international world, the internal dynamics of
Little Canada are a recipe for a slow, debilitating slide toward
complacency, irrelevance and mediocrity. There are, alas, on the
political and economic landscape of contemporary Canada, plenty of
preachers of Little Canada but no one articulating and defending a
vision of Big Canada.
Jeffrey_Simpson  op-ed  parochialism  one-size-fits-all  Canadian  prejudices  Canada  complacency  irrelevance  mediocrity 
december 2010 by jerryking
Why a Product’s Job Matters
April 18, 2007 | - The Informed Reader - WSJ | by Robin
Moroney. A basic principle of business–knowing what consumers want from
a particular product–is often ignored by corporations. Many businesses
focus on qualities that are largely irrelevant to the consumers’ buying
decisions, such as product prices, or data on customer age, gender and
marital status. Some business-to-business companies slice their markets
by industry; others by size of business. The problem with such
segmentation schemes is that they are static. Customers’ buying
behaviors change far more often than their demographics, psychographics
or attitudes. This leads to situations in which, in the words of the
late business guru Peter Drucker, “the customer rarely buys what the
business thinks it sells him.”
Peter_Drucker  Clayton_Christensen  Scott_Anthony  segmentation  marketing  market_segmentation  static  dynamic  purchase_decisions  hiring-a-product-to-do-a-specific-job  B2B  demographics  psychographics  attitudes  demographic_information  relevance  consumer_behavior  behavioral_change  irrelevance 
january 2010 by jerryking
Bridging exploration and exploitation
November 24, 2009 | Report on Business | SIMON HOUPT.
Interview and book review by Simon of Roger Martin's latest book, The
Design of Business. In his latest book, Roger Martin advocates the
importance of innovation for companies - or the risk of irrelevance.
Why do successful companies wither and die? Martin suggests that too
many companies are too comfortable with merely exploiting their
innovations rather than engaging in the necessary work of innovation and
exploration. There are two solitudes: exploration and exploitation.
Exploration being highly creative people in various kinds of creative
organizations that have a heck of a time turning their ideas into
something that allows them to continue their creative activities
sustainably. Exploitation being people in the business world who are
honing and refining, running their algorithms, wondering why they slowly
expire.
innovation  design  Roger_Martin  creativity  book_reviews  Simon_Houpt  experimentation  explorers  exploitation  obsolescence  complacency  bridging  creative_types  irrelevance  exploration 
november 2009 by jerryking

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