One of the most difficult challenges today's global executives face has everything to do with the shifting market dynamics that are already changing or threatening to disrupt legacy customer and distributor relationships.
Consider the convergence of technology and financial pressures that will invariably drive major changes in how healthcare is delivered to patient populations. Then comes growing digitisation that is putting more power and control in the hands of consumers with mobile applications.
In other industries, the continued commoditisation of products is changing the balance of power between manufacturers and their supply chain and sales partners. Producers with a historic commitment to quality now find themselves caught in a price-driven race to the bottom – and in search of critical value-adds to differentiate and retain market share.
Yet business opportunity abounds!
This is, in part, because new entrants to nearly every industry landscape are asking new questions and challenging long-held assumptions that have framed historic competitive benchmarks.
Part of this seems driven by a new generation of leaders, unbound by deep experience that in some cases have left competitors either biased against risk-taking or simply expecting established revenue streams to keep delivering as they have in the past.
These innovators enjoy relatively easy access to capital. Talent continues to mobilise around lofty ideas and mission-oriented cultures. And entrenched competitors too often cannot change with the times.
It is for all these reasons that one of the biggest challenges facing today's globally minded executive is to play the role of the canary in the proverbial coalmine. That is, to ring the alarm bell when others are too comfortable with the status quo without being perceived as a "Chicken Little" claiming the sky is falling.
Of course, one's own well built reputation could be put at risk if he or she comes across as a doomsday prophet.
The opportunity, however, is to see trouble coming and to prescribe a course of action that positions an organisation for change and growth at the same time. It is simply not enough to warn about trouble ahead.
Savvy executives must develop the data, external insights and internal allies to make a sound business case that others can rally behind. After all, it will likely require many organisational assets to look differently at a market and to engage customers and new and exciting, perhaps even truly innovative ways.
Now is the time to look around. Examine how customer behaviours and market data are evolving. Assume the future will be very different than the past. And question what others are telling you about the competition.
For as much as you must rely on what you've learned about yourself and the calling of an executive leader, there comes a time when you must forget much of what you know so you can focus on the markets you serve. Now is that time…
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