I came across this interesting blog on staying ahead of the competition on inc today, but for me it only touches on the bigger point.
Yes change is constant. Yes companies need to anticipate and respond to change. But that’s half the story. Organisations that simply throw themselves into the sea of change are chaotic and fail.
Companies need to be more flexible and responsive than ever, but leaders also need to choose when to battle against change. People like a sense of order and they don’t respond well when there’s significant uncertainty and anxiety.
So leaders need to create this sense of order and control within their companies if they want to get the most out of their people. Even if it’s an artificial construct that deliberately ignores external changes and trends, leaders of large organisations need to formulate a strategy that’s sufficiently inflexible and robust that it can guide decisions and behaviour for enough time to allow people to cooperate and deliver on the objective.
When they formulate their corporate strategy, leaders don’t have access to and/or can’t assess all the pertinent information. And the marketplaces they operate in are increasingly complex and volatile. Leaders need to pick when to fight against this… when to make bold strategic bets that they know might become hostages to fortune.
There will always be winners and losers in business and increasingly, the factors that determine who succeeds and who fails lie outside of our control. Retrospectively, it looks silly that Kodak chose to stick with photographic film, but given the information available to them at the time and their historic capabilities, could they really have done anything different? However adaptable and open to change, in what alternative universe would Kodak have beaten the mobile phone manufacturers and digital camera new entrants?
Sometimes it doesn’t matter how good your strategy — you’re still going to lose!
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