Monday, March 19, 2007

About 10X Change..

I just finished reading “Only the paranoid survive" by Andrew S. Grove. The book is an interesting piece of work where he talks about how to exploit the crisis points that can challenge every company and career.

He calls such challenges or adversities as the strategic inflexion points, the stage where old business rules have to give way to new rules. There are different from the changes business see happening normally. These are 10X changes occurring to some of the key driving forces of business. He identifies 6 such forces - Porter's 5 forces + complementers force. One can find enough examples of such instances in almost all industries. Entry of Wal-mart, changed entirely the retail landscape. Wal-mart was a 10X competitive force to existing retail market. In the entertainment industry, the use of sound takes over silent movies. Things changed when The Jazz Singer debuted on October 6, 1927. Some adapted to this change and were successful, most of the others failed. "Garbo speaks!!" reminds us of the instance when Greta Garbo, the queen of silent movies first spoke. Changes in regulations forced AT&T to adapt to a competitive world of consumer marketing from a monopolistic market. These are changes which take the industry to different platforms.

It's easy to talk about these changes in the hindsight, but it’s very difficult to identify such strategic inflexion points. Its difficult to filter out sound from noise. The only way is through process of clarification that comes from broad and intensive debate. Andrew stresses on the role of line managers, sales managers and other people who work on periphery of the business in identifying such changes as they are the people who see the things changing first. They are the people who pass on the information to the senior management. In order for a company to clearly know what's happening, it should provide that culture where people can freely share their ideas, debate with each other and questions senior management.

The process of identifying and then responding to the change involves chaos initially where intensive debate happens. But it needs to lead into a phase where leaders reign chaos. Clarity in direction which includes where to go and where not to go should emerge. This is important to know what strategic actions to take and become action oriented. Its very difficult to take people along on your mission to come out of the strategic inflexion point without knowing where to go. This is the point where lot of intitution, judgment, leadership, courage is required.

This holds true not only in the context of a company but also in life of a individual. A person faces several defining moments in his or her life. These are moments that require special abilities to pass through. One should be vigilant about what's happening around, enjoy the process of metamorphosis, be courageous and ready to face failures.

This is a must read for people who want to work in the area of strategy.

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