Risto Sillasmaa’s turnaround of Nokia starting in 2012 is extremely impressive. Nokia was in 2011 almost dead! Now the company is in the top-2 in the global market of communication-infrastructure. Sillasmaa quotes:
This statement is the key message in a crucial publication in HBR in June 2016, about the extremely expensive mistakes in M&A, which seem to be unstoppable! This has been going on for 40-50 years!
Many years ago, Michael Porter said that strategy is about making choices differently from your rivals. It is interesting to make the connection with Professor David Teece of the University of California at Berkeley, regarding ‘dynamic capabilities’, the internal company drivers of strategy that point towards competitive positioning. Teece draws a distinction between ordinary and dynamic capabilities. Ordinary capabilities are a set of learned processes and activities that enable a company to produce a particular outcome and are similar to best practices.
“Why don’t companies last forever? Why do so many companies face serious problems after years of success? Why does management not react if the success rate of organizations comes to an end?”This is because your company’s internal business intelligence dashboards, your big-data analytics, and the managers with titles like market insights, customer insights, marketing intelligence and market intelligence do not deliver the right intelligence!
Choosing a strategy entails making decisions that explicitly cut off possibilities and options. It is a natural reaction to make the challenge less daunting by turning it into a problem that can be solved with tried and tested tools. The strategic plan is supported with detailed spreadsheets that project costs and revenues quite far into the future. At the end of this strategy process everyone feels much less scared; so this is about coping with fear of the unknown.
Peter Diamandis founded the prestigious US Singularity University, active in research on new technologies and author of the bestseller “Abundance”. One of his visions is that technology developments do not just follow the linear curve of growth, but do, however, follow the curve exponentially. Many Boards underestimate the speed of technology change and when this happens exponentially the company loses ground. There are numerous examples where this occurs, the latest being Blackberry and Nokia.
In the previous post “How do we manage disruption?” we described how Nokia’s market position in 2010 was compared with a blazing oil platform leaving employees the choice of either jumping into the water even it was 100 meters deep and freezing cold, or staying on the rig and getting burned. In 1996, Intel’s Andy Grove of Intel published “Only the Paranoid Survive”.
How do we manage disruption? Or more importantly, how do we recognize its dynamics, anticipate its likely effects, develop and manage responses and sustain the necessary changes? Disruption can come in any number of forms. These include shifts in the dynamics of competitive advantage, technological breakthroughs, shifts in cost structure, new rivals entering markets from converging sectors, regulatory upheavals, economic downturns, idiosyncratic geopolitical and natural events, unforeseen internal company events, deregulation, re-regulation, and political turbulence.