Fall Signals Changes- How will You React?
Kids going back to school, football season starting, the weather turning cooler – indicators that things are changing, and we have to prepare. This newsletter is all about predicting change, and preparing to pivot to meet those changes. Growing firms know that adapting – pivoting – is essential, and it always requires reading the trends and preparing to change.
In business we often focus on “Doing things right.” It’s frequently about execution. But success requires moving beyond that focus to “Do the right things.” Implementation strength is no good if you aren’t doing the right things. Knowing how to prepare for a beach outing, or dress for a camp out, or handicap baseball statistics isn’t valuable when fall comes and you need to prepare for school, cold weather and a new fantasy football season.
“Doing the right things” is the heart of strategy and governance. Much more than executional focus. And to know what the right thing is to do you have to read market changes – recognize the shifting seasons – and that means having a keen eye for Trends.
Bill Gates called today’s climate “Business at the Speed of Thought.” With technologies, regulations, social norms, and global forces changing so fast, “strategic thinking” requires insight as to what is going to happen next and organizational nimbleness. Success requires a willingness to realize the future probably won’t look like the past, and that means looking past piles of historical information (all gleaned from the rear view mirror,) and figuring out how to read the trends, predict implications and create adaptability.
The Divine Creator gave us infinite information about the past. So we love to study everything that happened yesterday. But today this rarely predicts the future. Lacking facts about the future, we like to pretend it will be like the past. But we can break out of this backward fixation – by focusing on Trends. Trends are our guidemarkers to the future status.
To take advantage of future opportunities created by intersecting trends (insert Venn diagram here!), successful firms create strategies adaptable enough to overcome myopia, allowing them to shift the business in a new direction within the strategy. We used to call this “transformation” or “makeover,” but today it’s more appropriately known as a “strategic pivot”. Eric Ries coined the term in 2009 and it has become ubiquitous, especially in Silicon Valley, because it so accurately represents the action of quickly changing direction in order to keep your business aligned with trends, and growing.
How does an NFL running back “pivot” to quickly capture additional yardage in a crowded field of giant, elite athletes? He practices. He learns to read the cues, and predict the direction other players will take. But, unlike the running back, most firms don’t pivot often, if at all. They never develop the skills to read the field in front of them, or predict competitive action. They focus on running forward, and hope nobody knocks them down. Vince Lombardi, Head Coach of the Green Bay Packers and winner of Superbowls I & II had a simple principle for his running backs.
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Actions you can take
Don’t hesitate to ask for help in making your organization more adaptable, and your strategy embedded with options to pivot based on market shifts. You could start with an underperforming product or brand. Practice the “pivot” and learn how to implement change. And ask for coaching.
Watch my video discussing Netflix’ adaptable strategy and skill at pivoting.
How we can help
We are your experts at identifying trends, creating scenarios and building monitoring systems. We’ve done this kind of work for over 20 years, and bring a wealth of experience, and tools, to the task. You don’t have to go into scenario planning alone; we can be your coach and mentor to speed learning, and success.
For more on how to include trends in your planning, I’ve created a “how-to” that you can adapt for your team. See my Status Quo Risk Management Playbook.