A right‐of‐way strategy

Edie Weiner (President of Weiner Edrich Brown, Inc., a futurist consultancy based in New York City.)
Arnold Brown (Chairman of the firm and a director of World Future Society. This article is based on material in their new book, FutureThink: How to Think Clearly in a Time of Change (Pearson Prentice‐Hall, 2005).)

Strategy & Leadership

ISSN: 1087-8572

Publication date: 1 December 2005



To show how managing the right‐of‐way asset, a lesson the railroads didn't learn when they gave or bartered it away in the nineteenth century, will be a key to business success in the future.


Businesses large and small, dot.com and brick and mortar, spend years establishing a network of customers, suppliers, creditors, investors, employees, and stakeholders that is, in effect, a right‐of‐way. Unfortunately, few have understood how to capitalize on their right‐of‐way, thus leveraging one of the most currently underutilized assets in the economy.


Learn to imagine the effect of disruptive innovation on an established right‐of‐way and how to discern what capabilities will be needed to take advantage of such potential opportunities. Having invested in building a business or a professional practice or an organization or a network, you have developed associated strategic assets that you need to leverage adequately to provide additional returns.

Research limitations/implications

This conceptual paper provides historical research only.

Practical implications

Focusing on right‐of‐way enables companies to see and benefit from the potential customer instead of just the “best” customers. This amounts to a key recognition – that managing access to the customers equals managing the right‐of‐way, one of the most valuable assets a business can have in a time of growing competition.


To understand its true value and possibilities you must first escape the mental trap of limiting your asset management to just the business you think you're in. Then a strategy based on creative leveraging is not only possible, it is desirable.



Weiner, E. and Brown, A. (2005), "A right‐of‐way strategy", Strategy & Leadership, Vol. 33 No. 6, pp. 21-24. https://doi.org/10.1108/10878570510631620

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Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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