February 16, 2019
Can Your Company Really Survive the Future?
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My grandmother had a saying when she was faced with making critical decisions as she got older: “ I have more life behind me than in front of me, so how do I want to spend my time?.” As tongue and cheek, this saying was, it really captures what many companies are facing today in this environment of rapid change and uncertainty. The truth is that many more company executives are taking the opposite stance of believing that they have much more ramp time staring at them in the front windshield as opposed to the rearview mirror.
If you really take some time and step back from your daily operations, you can probably hear and see that change is afoot. The problem facing you is most likely knowing what changes you should be making to your business model; when exactly should you be changing, and will your investments pay off in the long run. On that last one, many entrepreneurs and business owners don’t necessarily believe that these changes will fundamentally alter their business landscape, or if it does, they will have time to change course in time.
Let me share an anecdotal story that may put that view in a different perspective, one from a microeconomics vantage point. Not so long ago, I wanted to get my family’s estate planning together. At first, I pursued the traditional route of speaking to an attorney who was willing to provide me all my necessary documents for an approximate cost of $7,500. Then, I began doing some research online and stumbled on LegalZoom.com. The online legal company began over a decade ago as a company that helped entrepreneurs start businesses anywhere in the US. Today, the company has branched out to provide estate planning, intellectual property, and legal advice. I took them up on the offer and was able to create and prepare my family’s entire estate plan for less than $300 which included a review and session with an attorney from my home state. I felt secure with the advice and was able to have all the necessary documents in an about a week as opposed to a month or more. My decision to use the online option heralded a shift in expectations in the sector’s fundamental business model of needing an attorney exactly where you are and spending a lot more to get something done. Traditional model=0 New model =1
The list of disruption continues as the world becomes a digital landscape. So, the question on every business owners’ and executives’ mind should be “How do we survive the future? And how much ramp time do we really have?”. Looking toward the future requires looking at your business model, your sector and indeed adjacent ones with a new eye and a willingness to create a new model altogether. Take some time to step back and think as a team at your business model and ask the following questions:
1. Who has successfully commercialized a new category of products or services in an industry with pervasive inertia, and how did they do it?
2. Who successfully moved an industry from one
3. Who successfully transitioned an industry from buying products to buying an outcome, and what made it work for them?
4. Who successfully changed the way an industry works by introducing new technology, product, or service, and what changes did they make?
5. Who successfully changed the standard of customer service, and how did they succeed?
6. Who successfully made a complex product or service as easy as possible for customers to implement, use, buy, etc., and how did they do it?
Once you feel satisfied that your team has looked in enough other boxes and found a rich enough set of precedents that are relevant, applicable, and proven, challenge them to recombine the most promising of those precedents into new ideas for solving the business problem you face.
The current rise of disruption will most likely continue for the next couple of decades, and many companies who falsely believe they can weather this storm by conducting business, as usual, are sadly mistaken. The objective is to truly see the world from a wider lens and see how your business can find its place in a wider, more encompassing digital and global ecosystem. Doing so will help you welcome the future as an opportunity as opposed to dreading its arrival by looking away.
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