Many companies confuse strategic thinking with having a rigid “strategic plan”. This leads them to spend little time on strategy during times of great environmental change – exactly the time when they will get the greatest payoff from thinking strategically.
I hear frequently about futility of spending time on strategy when the global business environment is changing so fast. “Let’s just focus on cutting costs and revisit strategy when the dust has settled” is the alluring refrain.
The problem with this approach in a crisis of this magnitude is that when the dust settles, you may have no business left. The list of industries undergoing fundamental shifts in the basis of competition covers half the economy. Automotive, Energy, Pharmaceutical, Manufacturing, Telecoms, Transportation, Healthcare, Media, Hi-tech, Software…the list is long even before we add the entire Finance industry. There will be new winners, and many companies will not make the transition.
Yes, the business environment is changing faster than ever. To keep up, you need to surface and challenge your old assumptions and test new assumptions against the new reality faster than ever before too.
This challenge and testing doesn’t happen spontaneously. You need focused management attention to surface assumptions, a ruthless commitment to kill off assumptions that are no longer useful and the determination to prevent new initiatives being killed off by the old mindset.
The speed your organisation can adapt comes directly from its ability to think strategically. Why not invest the time of your next management meeting in improving your flexibility?