The New Future – Strategy is Fundamentally About How You’re Going to Deliver Unique Value

Today’s organizations operate in a highly dynamic business context, which is compounded by complexity and uncertainty throughout the society. For the immediate future, business leaders will have to master the disciplines of uncertainty.

The news today is not very good. Every time we think we are on the upside of the downturn, we get thrown for another loop, hit with another crisis, told it will be just a few more months before all this turns around.

The unprecedented monetary stimulus, government guarantees, and injections of capital seem largely to have ended the short-term crisis that landed the capital and credit markets in the hospital. But it remains unclear what will happen when the patient is taken off its medicine.

For the first time in a year, majority say economic conditions in their countries are better now than they were in September 2008. Although the global news is good, there are marked regional differences; executives in the developed countries of Asia are generally the most optimistic, and those in Europe are the least.

However, a majority of executives around the world share the prevailing skepticism about consumers: when asked to name the biggest threat to future economic growth and to the growth of their own companies, most are concerned with low consumer demand and losing business to low-cost competitors.

It’s times like these when tremendous competitive success can be achieved. It’s times like these where companies can shift positions in the marketplace. It’s times like these when leaders can become followers, and followers can become leaders, because we are in a period where everything is now going to open and unfreeze. The cheap are getting better, the better are getting cheaper. Cheaper, better and faster is the new normal.

There are changes in lifestyle – people not going to movies, but watching at home; not eating out, but eating at home. People are not going anymore for the premium skin care products or perhaps Starbucks.

Alternative selling channels (kiosks, home-shopping, internet retailing, service stations, vending, and direct selling have been introduced often.

The world population will be growing, if we like it or not, from the current six-and-a-half billion to about eight billion by 2030. And that will not only give you more people, but it will also – as they improve their standard of living – create other opportunities for products to expand.

It is very clear that this world has tremendous challenges. The challenges of poverty, of water, of global warming, climate change.

The worst mistake in strategy is to compete with your competitors on the same thing. You want to find a different kind of value that you can deliver to a different set of customers. Strategy is fundamentally about how you’re going to deliver unique value.

Technologies such as high-speed Internet, mobile broadband and GPS are enabling new ways of providing value to customers. Not so long ago, the choices for anyone needing an automobile were to buy one, lease one, or rent one, by the day or by the week. In each of these alternatives, the car was likely to sit unused in a lot or a garage for long stretches of time. These models all provided great convenience – but at the price of great inefficiency.

With the arrival of new technologies, another model emerged: car sharing. Rather than buy or lease an entire car, customers buy just the amount of car they actually need. It could be an entire day’s worth or just an hour. The car is there when they need it – and in use by someone else when they don’t.

White Ocean Strategy does not represent the world of competition but rather the world of abundance in which you can share.

Good service is not enough. Shoot for customer satisfaction. A constant drive to improve.

You know, what was YouTube yesterday is Twitter today. Twitter a brand that has reached an estimated value of $1 billion since its founding in 2006. Like other social media, Twitter faces a dilemma: it is easier to sign up users than it is to monetize them. Personal accounts are free, and the micro blogging site has yet to settle on a proper business model.

Taking a step in that direction, Twitter is establishing paid-for business accounts. Founder Biz Stone assures businesses they can still use Twitter for free, but the paid accounts will provide a “special layer of access” that includes feedback and statistics.

Microsoft now has to worry about the rise of cloud computing, a wave Google intends to ride to the fullest, with its upcoming Chrome operating system. Tomorrow’s competition for Microsoft’s operating systems (and Apple’s, for that matter) is waiting in the wings. Recently, Google started “lifting the veil” on Chrome, an operating system that will allow computers to run programs via over the Internet and through a Web browser, an approach called cloud computing.

Google has good reason to go this route, of course, since it owns the world’s most popular search engine. While PC users today rely on cloud computing to access information over the Internet, user files still largely reside on the machine’s hard drive. Google’s approach is to have all programs and data stored on servers and available to each user via the Internet.

Leadership is about influencing and character. The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority. Leadership is a combination of strategy and character. If you must be without one, be without the strategy. Leaders must be able to think and do.

An effective follower is both a critical and independent thinker. Characterized by mindfulness and a willingness to act, effective followers are capable of self-management. They are willing to accept responsibility, serve the needs of the organization, challenge authority, participate in change, and even leave the organization when necessary.

The road to servant leadership lies not in trying to fix or change others but in working on changing and improving ourselves. ‘Everyone wants to change the world, but no one wants to change himself.’

To cope with change, the leader must be:

o Passionately believe that they can make a difference. They envision the future, creating an ideal and unique image of what the organization can become.

o Search for opportunities to change the status quo. They look for innovative ways to improve the organization. In doing so, they experiment and take risks.

o Foster collaboration and build spirited teams. They actively involve others.

If you look at the Gandhis or the Mandelas and the Mother Teresas, they exhibit a form of leadership that is very appealing, which is to put the interest of others ahead of themselves.

Dalai Lama, who said once, ‘If you seek enlightenment for yourself just to enhance yourself, you missed the purpose. If you seek enlightenment for yourself by helping others, you are with purpose.’ That’s the style of leadership that we increasingly need in today’s world.


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