The Greek philospher, Heraclitus once said, “The only constant is change”. I wonder if he envisioned the rate of change hitting us today?
If there is one thing that everyone agrees on it is that the pace of change and complexity are continuing to increase, faster and faster. Since Brian Solis wrote, The End of Business as Usual, we are seeing large companies seemingly disappear from the business landscape like the dinosaurs of the distant past. The question is what does this rapid pace of change and increasing complexity mean to you? Your business, firm, and even your career?
Rita McGrath wants to change the way we think about business, strategy and even your career in these disruptive times. In her latest book, The End of Competitive Advantage – How to Keep Your Strategy Moving as Fast as Your Business, she says,
“Competitors and customers have become too unpredictable, and industries too amorphous. The forces at work here are familiar: the digital revolution, a “flat” world, fewer barriers to entry, globalization. To stay ahead, they need to constantly start new strategic initiatives, building and exploiting many transient competitive advantages at once. Though individually temporary, these advantages, as a portfolio, can keep companies in the lead over the long run.”
In other words, it is the end of competitive advantage and we now find ourselves in the brave new world of transient advantages. The world of transient advantages requires us to think differently, and act nimbly, building a series of potential “advantages” instead of relying on one big advantage. What happens when your one big advantage gets disrupted? You go the way of those big companies that are disappearing overnight (watch End of Business video).
- Customers are finding cheaper or simpler solutions to be “good enough”
- Competition is emerging from places we didn’t expect
- Customers are no longer excited with what we have to offer
- We are not considered a top place to work by the people we would like to hire
- Some of our very best people are leaving
- The growth trajectory has slowed or reversed
- We are investing at the same levels or even more and not getting margins or growth in return
How do you deal with disruption and thrive in a transient advantage economy?
Rita talks about the six plays in the new strategy playbook for both businesses and individuals:
- Continuous Reconfiguration – Developing multiple competitive advantages in a portfolio to grow and avoid disruption
- Healthy Disengagement – Knowing when to exit a fading advantage and invest in the next one
- Deft Resource Allocation – Maximizing your investments across multiple advantages
- Innovation Proficiency – Making innovation a core competiency in your organization
- Discovery Driven Mindset – Learning how to scout and manage a portfolio of advantages
- Entrepreneurial Career Management – Learning how to learn new skills and position your own set of advantages
You mean this also applies to us as individuals?
“It’s crucial on a business level, but also on an individual level,” McGrath said. “In my new book, I devote a whole chapter to the question, ‘What does a career look like in this transient-advantage economy?’ It’s things like, ‘Are you exposing yourself to new networks? Are you meeting new people? Have you developed new skills? Have you associated with new organizations?’ Chances are one organization is not where you will spend the rest of your working life. So how do you build a career in which you move from advantage to advantage, in which you create value that’s unique to you? How to you build a career in which other organizations can appreciate that value?”
That brings us back to the most important skill any of us can hope to possess today — the ability to learn new skills.
That is what we are all about at the Business learning Institute, keeping your L>C and we are excited to have Rita McGrath coming to Maryland on January 30th, 2014. She is coming from the World Economic Forum in Davos to our session at the BWI Hilton Hotel from 9:00 – 12:30pm (Live and via webcast) details and registration here.
Come learn how to thrive in a world of transient advantages and work on your 2014 Competitive Edge playbook (follow Rita and us on twitter at #BLIEdge Rita @rgmcgrath BLI @blionline).