How to balance business transformation with business as usual

Future-facing projects need to be designed for speed and tolerant of failure, says corporate innovation specialist Chris Locke.

by Chris Locke

This year may well be remembered as the year of the retail apocalypse, with iconic brands including Thomas Cook and Mothercare succumbing. However, it’s not just the retail sector that’s felt the pinch. Across every business segment we are seeing giants of industry failing to respond quickly enough to market forces, leaving shareholders paying the ultimate price.

Herein lies the challenge for all established companies – how to manage these external changes when everything within the organisation is geared towards maintaining business-as-usual. As futurist Ray Kurzweil outlines: "we won't experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century — we'll experience 20,000 years of progress." Unfortunately, static business models don’t marry well with these exponential market dynamics. 

There needs to be a fundamental shift in how firms approach their business transformation programmes. Of course, you can’t neglect the core business - the cash cows that feed today’s profit margins must be maintained and optimised - but there must also be a recognition that these cash cows will eventually be put out to pasture. We therefore need to be actively managing our portfolio to search and develop the next generation of business models to drive growth.

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