CitationDownload as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: Strategy & Leadership, Volume 42, Issue 4
Business models and processes are evolving in quicktime to take advantage of opportunities enabled by the rapid advance of digital technology. Meanwhile, the preferences of customers and the jobs they need to do are co-evolving. What's accelerating the transformation of markets is that, using digital networks, customers and other stakeholder can instantly influence the development of new offerings. As a result, upstart businesses that can connect with customers through new social channels burgeon and thrive and long-established segments suddenly wither and vanish. Brian Leavy's "Masterclass" in this issue describes the current business environment as a "recombinant world" full of "extraordinary opportunity, complexity, fragility, and uncertainty," where most organizations are coming to look more and more like "fluid, permeable networks that compete - like many entrepreneurial firms - by rapidly and successfully assembling and reassembling resources of all kinds." There's now a name for the portfolio of new processes for navigating these disruptive tides of fortune - strategic management of transient advantage. The articles in this issue identify several sets of new rules - for both successful management of transient advantage and for breakthrough innovation and also for effectively employing the game-changing tools of social business, big data and information technology. The six articles are:
* "Masterclass: Strategy, organization and leadership in a new 'transient-advantage' world" by Brian Leavy. To use transience to advantage, established companies need to learn how to swiftly enter and exit businesses, operate through networks that mimic successful enterprises in their entrepreneurial phase and develop leaders with the willingness to take risks, to sacrifice and to doggedly pursue a larger, higher aim. The "Masterclass" examines the new insights and conclusions of three researchers: Rita McGrath, John Kotter and Joseph Badaracco.
* "The economy of access is now open for business: three strategies for success" by Stephen Denning. "Instead of planning their lives on the premise of acquiring and owning more private property, a new generation of web adventurers, mostly young people, is finding meaning and satisfaction in having shared access to things and interacting with other people in the process."
* "Reinventing the rules of engagement: three strategies for winning the information technology race" by Saul Berman and Anthony Marshall. The three strategies advocated by this IBM research: embrace disruption, build shared value, dare to be open.
* "A solution for a lack of breakthrough innovation - strategic C-suite direction and involvement" by Peter Skarzynski, Dave Crosswhite and Chris Jones. These ITC consultants warn, "For many organizations, functionalization brings an unintended consequence: the distancing of the C-Suite from innovation, with a consequent reduction in both the focus and the ongoing engagement of the CEO and other C-Suite executives."
* "How strategists use "big data" to support internal business decisions, discovery and production" by Thomas H. Davenport. As this eminent data science guru explains, "Big data offers a promising new dimension: to discover new opportunities to offer customers high-value products and services."
* "Interview: Harvard professor Mikolaj Piskorski's research-based social media business development model" by Alistair Davidson.
Ian Wilson - 1923-2014
It is with great sadness that I report the passing of Ian Wilson, a distinguished colleague and long-time supporter of Strategy & Leadership. For more than forty years, starting when the precursor of this journal was an association publication called Planning Review, Ian was a faithful editor, contributor, reviewer and advisor. For his many S&L articles Wilson drew on his experience consulting on strategic management as Principal of Wolf Enterprises and on his corporate career with SRI International (1980-1993) and General Electric (1954-1980), where he was a pioneer in strategic planning. In 2012, Ian was the first winner of the Strategy & Leadership Outstanding Service Award presented by Emerald Group Publishing.
His last of several books, The Scenario Planning Handbook: Developing Strategies in Uncertain Times, published in 2006 with co-author Bill Ralston, is in my opinion the preeminent book on creating scenarios that prepare an organization to respond strategically to futures that are different in critical ways from management's expectations of "business as usual." Ian was part of a small community of strategic thinkers who understood the urgent need to ready large organizations to imagine the long-term, unpredictable dynamics of markets and industries and to learn how to plan effectively and operate in a range of possible future conditions.
In an S&L interview about his book, Ian had this advice for leaders: Ask yourselves, "Do we - as a group - have sufficient grasp of the full range of threats and opportunities that we face? Do we really appreciate the full extent of the uncertainties - and the very different, but plausible, futures - that we face?" And finally, "How effective would our current strategy be if the future operating environment - markets, technology, customers and competitors - turns out to be surprisingly different than what we anticipate?"[#fn1]
One of the privileges of being editor of this publication was having Ian, an officer in World War II who was wounded during the Normandy invasion, share his wise counsel about life and corporate strategy during our occasional hikes through the parks of California's Marin Headlands.
Robert M. Randall