FOR A COMPANY TO JOIN THE ELITE GROUP OF COMPANIES WITH GREAT FORESIGHT AND WIN TOMORROW’S BATTLE FOR MARKET LEADERSHIP, IT MUST FIRST WIN TODAY’S BATTLE FOR INTELLECTUAL LEADERSHIP.
A company will indeed become a laggard and find itself at the mercy of innovative competitors, companies with great foresight, if it fails in developing a prescient, well-grounded and creative view of tomorrow’s opportunities, what consumers will consider valuable in the future, industry foresight. Such a well-founded view prompts preemptive competence and capability building, ensures that investment programs complement each other and guides a company into the right strategic alliances and acquisitions.
For a company to win tomorrow’s battle for market leadership and join the elite group of companies with great foresight, it must first win today’s battle for intellectual leadership. A company seeing opportunities not seen by others and exploiting them by virtue of its disciplined, preemptive and consistent capability building processes, will have one great advantage: it will get to the future first and take its high ground. That means that senior management is devoting adequate time to opportunity management and operations management.
Acquisitions often present an easy escape route for senior managers who are not motivated to think through their firm’s “core” business and imagine new ways of deploying their existing capabilities. As Xerox was acquiring financial services companies, it was unknowingly surrendering its leadership of the future to other companies willing to explore the potentials of the technology that it created. Thus, Xerox became a laggard in developing the office of the future.
In an innovative company, bureaucracy, multiple levels of approval and lack of personal freedom are effectively curtailed. Articulating a point of view about the future requires senior managers who can free themselves from their firm’s “current concept of self.”
Although the future is different, it is predictable; the cues, weak signals and trend lines that suggest how the future might be different could help a discerning company to craft an imaginative, compelling and foresightful view of the future. Canon joined the league of companies with great foresight when it committed to developing small, personal copiers at the ignorance and negligence of Xerox. Swatch, rather than Seiko or Citizen, was the foresightful one when it initiated the novel idea of combining pop art and timekeeping.