Strategy: 5 Lessons Learned From A Decade Of Naught

I've had considerable time to catch up on reading this holiday season.  Traditionally, it's a time for predictions, resolutions, and reflections.  But as we close out the last decade, I couldn't help but dwell on economist Paul Krugman's Op-Ed from December 27th titled "The Big Zero".   He brings up good points that it's been an "era best forgotten" and "it was a decade in which nothing good happened, and none of the optimistic things we were supposed to believe turned out to be true".  He dives deep to rant about how we've achieved zero economic gains and makes compelling arguments.  However, in the world of innovation and adoption of disruptive technologies, it may be safe to say that his point on "our unwillingness, as a nation, to learn from our mistakes", seems to be less true.
In fact, emerging organizational trends in the next decade can be well rooted in lessons learned through the boom and bust cycle of the 2000's.  Here's my opinion on five lessons learned from the tragedy of what we call the past decade:

  • Pace of change moves from constant to constantly accelerating. Quickly evolve or die.  Organizations need to find ways to stay ahead of change or risk being obsolesced.  Organizations must organize around supporting flexibility and agility.  Disruptive technologies play a role in leapfrogging organizational models, business processes, and business models.
  • Planning switches from static to iterative. Agile is the new poster child for today's approach.  The best plans assume constant iteration.  Organizations must expect to reevaluate and assess plans in shorter cycles.  3 to 5 year plans can't account for or incorporate the entry of disruptive technologies.  Iterations move from years to months.
  • Viability shifts from size to innovation. Size does not equate to viability.  Success requires solving pain chains.  Mergers and acquisitions will continue out of necessity but must be done strategically.  Not only must organizations achieve an economy of scale that reduces overhead, funds innovation, and grabs the largest share of the customer budget, but they must also address pain chains by developing and delivering innovative last-mile solutions that dis-intermediate inefficiencies in existing business models.  If size gets in the way, then you must divest.
  • Success evolves from technology adoption and process improvement to business value and business impact. Benefits should only focus  on business impact.  After a decade of technology and business process centricity, organizations must start with the business value story.  Business processes must be flexible enough to accommodate the pace of change.  Technology provides an enabler but not the complete solution.  People still matter at the end of the day so make sure the incentives are aligned.  Holistic goals such as the total customer experience, beyond real time relationships, and optimal compliance will provide the business drivers for new initiatives.
  • Collaboration evolves from nice to have to essential. Plain and simple - partnerships count more than ever. No single organization can serve every market, provide every last mile solution, and deliver value in a focused manner.  Most organizations can not afford go it alone strategies.  Partnerships must be based on an understanding of what each party will not do in order to find the common ground among 4 key dimensions: product road map alignment, service and support coverage, sales coordination, and community engagement.

Your POV.
What have you learned from the past decade?  Do you feel it was for naught or were you fruitful in your pursuits?  Feel free to post your comments here or send me an email at rwang0 at gmail dot com or r at softwareinsider dot org.
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