One of the constants in life, as the 5th Century BC Greek philosopher Heroclitus opined, is change. While this paraphrase of his “no man can step into the same river twice” maxim was true in his day, it is ever more relevant in 2017.
Reflect on some of the change that we have witnessed over the last few decades: the ubiquity of social media, the power of computing that we carry around with us and the cost-effectiveness of DNA testing. We’ve seen the rise of self checkouts and driverless cars. It seems we can make anything we like with 3D printers.
All of these improvements and new ways of doing things. These inventions and innovations that are impacting organisations of all types.
Whether this impact is felt in the way staff approach their job, or the speed at which new competitors arise, or the way technology can bring improvements to your business. Your organisation will continue to be affected by what is going on around you.
So, how do you prepare for what may lie ahead? How do you ensure long term success.
How do you see the risks and opportunities that lie over the horizon.
And how do you prepare yourself to either mitigate these risks or to exploit the opportunities?
In two words – use strategic thinking.
Rather than using standard strategic planning or business planning you need to dig deeper to see what is really happening.
Rather than using environmental scanning or SWOT analysis to see what is happening around you, you need to ask questions about why the change is happening.
And its called strategic thinking for a reason, because it involves thinking!
Consider say cloud computing. All of your competitors and others that you know are shifting to using these platforms. Why?
A simple answer would be that it is cheaper. It is more efficient to just buy the software to run the business rather than all the computers and staff that are needed to run the software.
But dig deeper to find a more profound answer. Ask yourself some questions about the drivers of change.
And these “drivers of change” questions about, in this case, cloud computing, may well lead to the following:
- Is it because cloud computing can be more responsive to helping businesses respond to competitive pressures?
- Are competitive pressures mounting because products can be brought to market quicker?
- Can products be brought to market quicker because of more efficient market research mechanisms?
Taking that last question about efficient market feedback, what risks and opportunities are there for you?
Do you have personnel risks – that you don’t have the right people to implement the market feedback you get?
Do you have systems risks – that you don’t have the right processes in place to gather timely market feedback?
Do you have R&D risks- that you don’t have a culture that embraces innovation and bringing to market new products?
Strategic thinking is the new game in town.
Through strategic thinking you can discover, and prepare for, the risks and opportunities that are over the horizon.