We all know what happened to Blockbuster as it was Netflixed. Strategic inflection points were coined by Andy Grove in his seminal book “Only the Paranoid Survive.” Strategic inflection points are the things that happen when it disrupts a whole industry. For example, the iPhone made the earlier iPod irrelevant. Obviously, all of us want to navigate these inflection points successfully.
This is where the book “Seeing Around Corners” by Rita Gunther McGrath can help. She has identified eight practices that can help us navigate and identify these inflection points earlier before we get Netflixed. So here are the eight practices with my take on each.
Create mechanisms that direct information from corner office to street corner
This means don’t have information only at the top. Decentralize the organization and clear the channels of communication to facilitate information flows at all levels. Everyone should have a voice in the organization and if psychological safety is created within then people will not fear speaking their mind.
Make sure you are leveraging diversity of thought
Like what Jim Collins said engage in vigorous debate and welcome every opinion from everyone. There should be folks in the team who question the big decisions to make sure every angle is taken into consideration. For example, the Quaker Oats acquisition of Snapple didn’t go well because there was never diversity of thought and no dissent when the decision was made.
Balance type 1 and type 2 decisions
This is basically the decision-making style of Jeff Bezos. The Type 1 decisions are the ones that are very important, and lot of thought must go into it. The Type 2 decisions are the ones which are minor in comparison and can be decided with the help of empowered small agile teams. This balance is critical, and focus is the key to making sound decisions.
Instrument the edges
This basically means you should make small bets rather than trying for something big. This is like the fire bullets then cannonballs that was described in Great by Choice by Jim Collins. The bullet should be low cost, minimal impact and low distraction.
Get out of the building
This is the best concept for me. It means look to other teams and other industries to borrow ideas. Sometimes you can never find the solution within your organization. Keep your antennas up and keep on learning something new from everyone you come across. Make it a point to read broadly across industries and you might get great ideas.
There is always a case for creating rewards and recognition programs for your teams to bring their best selves. Good programs which are apolitical can inspire teams to bring their best and be on the cutting edge of innovation.
A lot of organizations never accept when something wrong happens. The problem with this approach is everyone is in on the truth except those at the top. It always works better if there is transparency and brutal honest. As Max De Pree said the first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.
Talk to the future
In my opinion this is all about creating a vision for the organization and ensuring everyone has bought into the vision. This also means to analyze competition and see what they are up to. It is also about looking at the trends that are at the tip of the iceberg and make some predictions which are not even on the horizon.
There you have it the eight practices to navigate the strategic inflection points that might hit your industry. This book is one of the best business books of the year. It has so much information and even some thoughts on how you can apply this to your life. If you are planning to read one book this would be a good pick with lot of value packed in.
Thanks for reading this post. The views expressed here are my own and do not represent my organization.