I’ve been thinking a lot about how nimble the modern business has to be. “Rapid response” is a phrase that I first heard for political campaigns, but there seems to be a need for rapid response in every arena.
Think of the current dueling ads between Verizon and AT&T. Verizon makes fun of the “map” of coverage for AT&T, and AT&T hires Luke Wilson to do a response with his own map tricks. This is a rapid response, and we’ll have to watch and see if it works.
I’ve written before about the fact that Facebook has left that “dinosaur of a company,” MySpace, in the dust. (see my earlier post here). And, of course, there is the reality that any thing you buy today that has any technology in it (and everything does), is replaced with a newer updated version in the blink of an eye.
And yet, I’m not sure our business systems are fully prepared for this rapid change environment.
In The Future Arrived Yesterday, Michael Malone describes the problem this way:
Successful companies of the future must find a way to continuously and rapidly change almost every one of their attributes – products, services, finances, physical plant, markets, customers, and both tactical and strategic goals – yet at the same time retain a core of values, customs, legends, and philosophy that will be little affected by the continuous and explosive changes taking place just beyond its edges.
A fixed inner core – a nimble everything else. In fact, the subtitle of the book: The Rise and Fall of the Protean Corporation and What It Means for You describes his major premise: that the modern company has to be Protean – a “shape-shifter.” Quite a challenge!
In the book Rapid Transformation: A 90-Day Plan For Fast And Effective Change, Benham N. Tabrizi puts it this way:
There are no secrets. Competing in today’s marketplace is like competing in any other game. To stay competitive, a player must be dynamic in the marketplace, constantly revising its own strategy in response to the strategies of its opponents, as well as aligning itself with the changing demands of its customers. The organizations that can most quickly respond to the marketplace, particularly those that adapt faster than their competitors, are the ones that make it to the top.
This much seems certain. Regardless of what you are doing, it will be done differently/better tomorrow. Someone else may take away your customers in a flash. (Customer loyalty seems to be a thing of the past). And your ability to change, to be nimble, to think like a perpetual start-up, may be the only road to survival.
I’ve been feeling, and saying, that there is too much to know. The more we discover, the more data we accumulate, the more we are supposed to master — the more we have to know.
This weekend, I discovered that Guy Kawasaki tweeted Bob’s blog post about his, Kawasaki’s, terrific book. It was great to find out that Kawasaki tweeted about our blog on his Twitter account. But now, I feel like I have to follow Twitter as well as what is on blogs, and in the magazines, and in the newspapers, and in…. It really is information-buffet overload.
And it is ever more sliced and diced, even in the best-seller lists.
Consider this: in the current New York Times Hardcover Business Best Sellers list, Gladwell’s Outliers is still number one. (We presented Outliers at the January, 09 First Friday Book Synopsis, and here it is still number 1 eight months later. Amazing! But, it is that good.) By the way, Gladwell’s The Tipping Point is number one on the NY Times Paperback Business Best Sellers list, and it came out originally in 2000.
So how does a new book, without a “superstar” like Malcolm Gladwell or a Thomas Friedman as author, ever break though? One way is the Amazon.com way. They have created all sorts of categories and sub-categories, so that we can find the best-selling books in ever-more narrow slices of interest. Consider two upcoming selections for the First Friday Book Synopsis. Here is their current ranking (as of this writing — it is updated every hour on Amazon):
|Books > Business & Investing > Women & Business|
|Books > Nonfiction > Women’s Studies|
|Books > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Gender Studies|
|Books > Science > Technology > Innovations|
Neither of these are in the top 20 in the simple “Business” category. (Yes, Outliers is #1 and 2; the Kindle version is #1, the Hardcover version is #2 – at the time of this writing). Yet, these books are worth reading, have received good and encouraging reviews, and because of Amazon’s creative best-selling listing, they can legitimately be called best-sellers — in “narrower” lists of best sellers.
We try to select good, substantive books that have a chance of making it to best-seller status for the First Friday Book Synopsis. These books fit – but partly because of the creativity found in the Amazon approach.