Fostering the business revolution

Throughout my career as a strategic business consultant, I have found myself immersed in increasingly uncertain and ever-changing competitive settings which bear greatly on the design of business strategy. "May we live in interesting times", goes the old Chinese blessing, although some would say it’s more of a curse. In either case, I do not believe any of us would say that what we are living through is precisely 'innocuous', but rather, these are truly complicated times.

Our current business setting cannot be changed by 'attacking' from conventional, or orthodox standpoints, as the old and worn-out formulas of success are not going to lead us to improved competitiveness in future. What we need in order to differentiate ourselves from the competition is to come up with revolutionary processes which defy the established norms.

To paraphrase Gary Hamel, the great management ideologue, "We must lead the business revolution. The challenge is to have the foresight, desire and ambition to come up with radically novel business concepts, as well as being able to reinterpret existing ones in surprising ways." I wonder, just how many managers are prepared to lead the revolution in their own company?

In my opinion, a radically innovative strategy must meet a number of essential demands of the international settings in which companies compete. For a start, it must foster creativity in every sphere of the organisation. It also needs to create value around the company's intangible assets, while maintaining a policy of dual management; in essence, keeping a balance between preparing for the future whilst managing the present.

Furthermore, the company’s capacity to differentiate itself in the market must be emphasised, and in so doing, novel business models emerge which are adapted to its main client segments. However, for those new models to really be successful, the company must become 'obsessed' with providing their clients with relevant experiences. As the master of strategy Henry Mintzberg puts it, "ideas and new projects grow like weeds in a garden", and so by promoting intra/entrepreneurship the established order is disturbed.

Revolutions are started and led by people. Therefore, the key is to place people at the heart of the company. By creating environments which favour the development of democratic, diverse, and multi-cultural companies, that ideal can be achieved. Indeed, the way forward is to foster 'enriched' strategic thinking within the organisation and to involve the company in its immediate social milieu.

I call on business leaders to accept this challenge with the necessary passion and commitment to spawn a revolutionary process which boosts the attractiveness of our companies for everybody, as well as to draw in young people through appealing projects of transformation.

Read the original article in El Economista (Spanish).

Sabin Azua

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