I read several books while on vacation including one recommended by one of our Gazelles coaches, Strategic Learning, by Willie Pietersen. I’m sure you’ve noticed how frantically the environment is changing. One of my clients today when reviewing his preparatory work for our Two Day Rockefeller Workshop noted one of his greatest fears is keeping pace with the rapid changes in technology that influence his business. He’s afraid some pimple faced kid in a garage may come up with a tool that will render his company obsolete.
Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania [The School for Generals it’s termed] coined an acronym for an environment in flux: VUCA, for volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. It applies aptly to today’s business landscape. Consider how the shelf life of any business advantage is shrinking due to competitive intensity, pressure on pricing and profit margins, the premium placed on speed, flexibility and innovation. Viewed on a historical perspective Strategic Learning points out there have been four big revolutions that ushered in a new era, with totally new challenges and rules for success: The Agrarian Age, Industrial Age, Information Age and our current era, which they dub Conceptual Age. Of note is the pace of change, the agrarian age lasted 10,000 years, the industrial age 200 years, and the information age 50 years. The conceptual age is just ten years old.
In the conceptual age the source of competitive advantage is no longer finding more information, it’s making sense of the information. That’s because there is such an overwhelming volume of information available to all of us. Sense making, creativity, and the ability to synthesize, not just analyze has become paramount.
The key leadership challenge is building adaptive organizations. Organizations need the fundamental ability to make sense of the changing environment and yet rapidly translate this into insights that are proactive.
Positioning Systems Strategic Disciplines provides the tools for your business to readily adapt to the pace of change. Meeting Rhythms, Metrics, and Priorities when properly implemented provide the framework that can keep your business ahead of the battle for insights that Strategic Learning identified as one of the “killer competencies” that develop insights earlier and better than your competition.
One of the components of these Strategic Disciplines is Pattern Recognition. We’ll discuss that next time.