We are currently in the midst of one of the most drawn-out and bitter economic crises of the last 100 years which is shaking our economy to the core. Over-riding concerns about the economy include uncertainty about the future, company closures, high unemployment, dwindling social benefits, and fears about the future shape of infrastructure development. Not a rosy picture.
However, while we remain mired in these and other problems, there are some economies around the world which continue to grow and create wealth, allowing them to advance in their various processes of economic and social transformation. Sadly, but alarmingly, many companies tend to focus on dodging the short-term, whilst completely forgetting about the vital importance of Strategic Thinking and laying out a Road Map to guide them through the business decision-making process of designing their future.
I firmly believe that it is crucial at this time to accentuate strategic dialogue within organisations to combat this loss of business competitiveness and diminishing competitive edge. Companies must use a two-pronged approach in operations management, which is essentially a balancing act of managing the present while preparing for their future competitiveness. The problem is that over-application of so-called 'strategies of starvation' can lead to the slow death of the organisation. But when we are done with the cutbacks, what will we be left with in order to build our future competitiveness? How shall we counter growing international competition?
What we urgently need to do is to intensify our strategic vision. We need to commit ourselves to the future by seeking out new markets, and by launching new products and services. The way out of this situation is to find innovative business models and organisations that place greater emphasis on people, whilst generating a dynamic of constant innovation and entrepreneurship. More than ever, what we need is to open our minds to embrace new ideas so that we can emerge from the crisis stronger and healthier.
We all know that today the competitive stage is in constant flux: long-term plans quickly being made redundant and out-dated. However, this should not prevent companies from defining a sense of strategic direction in their organisations as long as the direction defined is constantly monitored and 'fine-tuned' to successfully compete abroad.
In my opinion, the future competitiveness of a company will depend on its capacity to manage and juggle a few key elements. These include: 1) providing key support to decision-making processes; 2) the implementation of an effective strategic plan which generates a dynamic of internal strategic dialogue; 3) and being ready and open to exploring future possibilities.
May we encourage companies to, as Daniel Cohn-Bendit aptly put it, "Systematically explore the future and fortune."
*Published in Estrategia Empresarial. Cuaderno: Consultoria, 15/10/2012 (Spanish)