Activist investors were busy in 2017. General Electric, AIG, Arconic, CSX, Pandora, and Buffalo Wild Wings are among the companies whose CEOs resigned under pressure from activist investors. Activist investors single out underperforming companies, then force changes, which may include giving the activist a seat on the board, replacing company leaders, divesting a division, or simply cutting costs.
Growth has always been fundamental to business success, but it’s never been more critical than it is now. Rapid changes in technology, shifting customer expectations, disruptive business models and quickly evolving regulations force organizations to innovate quickly and invest in new lines of business that will fuel future growth. The problem is, the same forces that make growth imperative also can make it incredibly daunting.
I see business leaders wrestling with some tough strategic dilemmas: should we disrupt our own business before someone else does, or focus on protecting it? Do we develop new capabilities internally or partner externally? Do we craft a careful plan or simply plunge right in? If you aren’t careful, these uncertainties and doubts can slow you down, while the competition speeds by.
If it’s a weekend and the forecast shows potential for good wind, my husband and I head to the beach. We aren’t always rewarded with enough wind for great kiteboarding, but if there is wind, we’re often the only ones there, set up and ready to take advantage of it.
Meanwhile, others who have waited for the wind to materialize before jumping in the car often arrive just as the wind is dying.
Just like the wind, most everything in business is subject to change, often when you least expect it. And change brings uncertainty, which often manifests as doubt, delay and paralysis. We don’t know what’s going to happen, so we wait. According to psychologists, we humans are hardwired to dislike uncertainty; it’s in our DNA. In a recent study, researchers discovered that uncertainty is more stressful to humans than knowing that something bad is definitely going to happen.
No doubt about it: we live in a rapidly changing world. Disruptive technologies, shifting customer behaviors and emerging business models are shaking up nearly every industry. If you are going to survive and succeed amidst this change, you need to move in a fast and adaptable way. Yes…even if you’re a huge global organization with many layers of leadership.To survive and succeed amidst change, move in a fast and adaptable way. Click To Tweet
For seasoned executives, the knowledge that they must compete with young, energetic upstarts who can switch speed and direction on a dime can be scary. And with good reason: It’s often very difficult for established organizations to move quickly and behave in an entrepreneurial fashion.
When you’ve just been through a period of intense change or innovation, it’s tempting to take a breather. Our instinct is to let things settle into a steady state. We reach a plateau of learning and wish to enjoy the fruits of our labor. This is dangerous. Continue Reading →
No matter what business you’re in, and whether the business outlook is bleak or robust, one thing is certain: the success or failure of your strategy hinges on what your competitors choose to do. Continue Reading →
Do you think your own business is quick enough and agile enough to survive and thrive in today’s fast-moving business markets? Continue Reading →
When I was sixteen, I went on a 2-week horseback trip in the Bighorn mountains of Wyoming. Each morning, we were given the coordinates of the location where we would camp that night, then turned loose with a map and compass. It was satisfying to arrive at the destination each night, after navigating our way through the mountains on our own.
Heading a new strategic direction—entering a new market, innovating a new product line, or changing the way we go to market—can feel like heading out into the wilderness. If we think like an explorer would, however, we can find our way to new sources of profit and growth.
Here are four points to keep in mind when navigating new strategic territory:
Do you wish your organization could move faster to take advantage of new opportunities in the market, or to avert emerging threats?
Do you feel that you are missing, or seeing but ignoring, important changes in your business environment?
Does it take longer than it should to make key strategic decisions, or to take action, once those decisions are made?
When you want to gain insight into emerging customer needs and behaviors, the first solution you might think of is market research. But research can be costly, and it can take weeks to implement and analyze.
Beyond the cost and time required, there are two big problems with market research. Continue Reading →