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It’s easy to imagine Apple announcing the launch of its new market offering: a mobile car/office that is printed to a specific design and is driverless, energy efficient, safe. It is also city savvy: drop off, take itself to its parking spot, change shape, recharge then set off to pick up its next passengers via an SMS signal. It will also be connected directly to its passenger’s office and home appliance management system enabling it to interact with their air conditioning, lights, entertainment, hot desk and meeting room set ups. You probably won’t buy the car, more likely you’ll rent it on an as needs basis; pre-ordered online via the Apple store.

The reality is that this possibility will become a reality within the next five years.

9781472412478[1]Against this backdrop it is extremely worrying to see how many business leaders are seemingly unaware of the enormity of change that advanced technology will bring. We are in fact, on the precipice of the next wave of the super-industrial revolution, first proposed by futurist Alvin Toffler as long ago as the 1970’s. The fulcrum of this third wave industrial revolution will be the emergence of enabling technologies such as intelligent machines, additive manufacturing, digitisation, internet of things, robotics, biotechnology, 5G mobile networks and renewable energy sources to name a few.

From a business perspective, the next revolution offers an unprecedented opportunity to create new industries and wealth. Realisation of this promise though will not come without some seriously complex challenges. First wave strategising and ingrained approaches to strategic thinking won’t help. First to go is the static 1960’s annual strategic planning regime (first revolution thinking) as well as the associated Strength, Weakness, Threat and Opportunity (SWOT) models. Template driven strategic plans will be replaced by automated, analytics empowered dashboard monitoring mechanisms enacted within a program of continual renewal and monitored by the instrument that represents the replacement for the ‘strategic plan’; the strategic change agenda. In particular this program will entail the monitoring of assumptions and trends that provide vital legitimacy to the strategic decisions that are at best tentatively grounded in the strategy practitioner’s perceptions of an unknown future.

Such methods of advanced strategy practices though are still limited; second wave strategising capabilities at best. Rather than system and process oriented strategy tools alone, third wave strategising will require individuals to possess capabilities that will be cerebral in context and cognitive in application; the ultimate domain of foresight and insight – together (albeit assisted by artificial intelligence, automated search and data driven analytics to name a few). The primary element of this third wave capability is speed; a capacity to stay ahead of the competition through rapid organisational learning. New knowledge will be informed by an individual’s capacity to reframe and envision new futures, address constraints and rapidly deploy new plans into action. Skill sets required will include a capacity to reconstrue mental models and to apply integrative, design and even transcendent thinking capabilities coupled and assisted by the presence of a formal learning mechanism. The need for speed will require leadership teams to learn together and to practice the art of agile strategy, elements of which are the early recognition of opportunities, rapid decision making and the practice of rapid resource deployment and redeployment.

The professional strategy practitioner must take the initiative in the adoption of the imperative to transform to this new era in business. Some organisations will flourish, many will not.

This blog was sent to us by Dr Paul Hunter, Chief Executive, Strategic Management Institute, Australia and author of the The Seven Inconvenient Truths of Business Strategy Gower, 2014, along with other posts it can also be found on their website:  http://www.smiknowledge.com/blog/