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Making Sense of Disruption

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25
Oct
2018

Take the plunge…10 years on!

LinkedIn reminded me (not that I needed reminding!) that Vantage turned 10 this month.

I set off ten years ago from the so called security of a corporate career. And now have a mix of Board roles and strategy consulting gigs with a range of medium sized businesses. A hectic, challenging but oh so rewarding journey.

Not a long time, but given failure rate of many businesses, not short either. It did however set me to reflect on what I have learnt on the way…



It’s not such a fragile choice…in fact it’s the opposite. Many people offered their view that leaving the security of corporate job was risky. However my experience is that having a so called ‘portfolio career’ means you are not tied to one organisation as your sole ‘employer'. You have a natural hedge that enables you to dial up or down your focus and engagement.


Variety is indeed the spice of life…for me and who I work with. The ability to, not only leverage what I learnt as a senior executive, but to build on ten years of working with dozens of businesses and boards keeps me fresh and enables me to add value in ways I hadn’t expected. Whilst not underestimating the value of deep sector experience in many circumstances, there is a lot to be said for the value breadth can give…in particular when developing strategy as a facilitator and as a non executive director.


Flexibility is gold. Having a mix of boards and clients means that, most of the time, I can manage work around my life. Yes I have probably never worked harder, and sometimes there are multiple demands, but in general the flexibility to spend more time with my family, take more holidays and spend time developing my capability pays me back ten fold. Work life balance is often disparaged as unachievable because people talk about trade offs. In fact it’s about focusing on the life you want to lead…in all its components.

Your support team is critical. You cant, and won’t, do it on your own. People are only too willing to help by way of advice, support and introductions. And the really great bit? You get to do the same for others and that has a whole set of value in and of itself.

So if you are thinking of taking the plunge from the so called security of a corporate gig give it a go!

Happy 10th anniversary to Vantage!

James Atkins
LinkedIn reminded me (not that I needed reminding!) that Vantage turned 10 this month.

I set off ten years ago from the so called security of a corporate career. And now have a mix of Board roles and strategy consulting gigs with a range of medium sized businesses. A hectic, challenging but oh so rewarding journey.

Not a long time, but given failure rate of many businesses, not short either. It did however set me to reflect on what I have learnt on the way…

 ..
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23
Aug
2018

Connecting the Dots…making sense of disruption

Agility is without doubt the management buzz word of the moment. Great Leaders are agile; organisations must reorganise to be agile; your products and services, and how you go to market, must have agility at its core…or so we are all told.



But why?

It is increasingly clear to me that the pace of change, and in particular the impact of digital technology on competition and our organisations, is the reason.

The accelerators of change including artificial intelligence, robotics, cloud computing, big data, augmented and virtual reality, and even Blockchain (ignoring the smoke and mirrors of Bitcoin!) will, I believe, enable new products, services and business formats to develop and scale at a pace currently only just starting to be seen.

However, there is too much emphasis on the specifics of the individual technologies themselves, and not enough on how these technologies can be used together and applied to real customer problems. The ability to remove customer friction by the smart application of technology is a clear differentiator for many already. Think Uber, contactless cards, Netflix to name a few. This will be what differentiates winners in the future.

It is the role of business leaders to figure out how to ‘connect the dots’ – the nexus of technologies, models, concepts and ideas.

We are moving from a relatively linear trajectory to one of exponential change. Some sectors and industries will move faster than others, so the need to respond will be different. The opportunity, though, is available to all.

And it’s not just about start-ups – though their adoption and application of new ways of working and digital technologies are a sign of things to come and should act as a cue and/or wake up call.

Agile organisations that are able to transform their culture and think about how they can partner and work in alternative ways will be the success stories of the future. Impenetrable moats around our businesses are no longer assured.

The unbundling and re-bundling of integrated value propositions – just look at what has already happened in financial services – enables new customer offers to be designed and delivered for customers in different and exciting ways. As a result, we are already seeing industry definitions change, with some sectors effectively disappearing.

A key consideration is a shift in many companies from offering products to overseeing, participating in or facilitating ecosystems. Nespresso was an early example where the offering was a combination of components that only worked together - an espresso machine, pods, milk frother and the physical coffee making experience - in a closed fully controlled (via patents) loop.

Apple is another early ecosystem participant. They effectively embedded their ‘hardware’ (iPhone, iPad, Mac etc.), all operating of a single platform, as the core with complementary products and services creating value for customers – the sum being greater than the parts. Not ‘closed’, like Nespresso, but orchestrated or controlled by Apple with app developers, musicians etc embedding their offer in the wider ecosystem.

Newer ones worth having a look, at that are leveraging new digital technologies, include Babylon and Nest.

Ecosystems are modular (re-bundling), and rely on mutual interdependencies, two-way value flow and shared data, held together with a variable level of hierarchical control specific to each one. As a result, the various players in these ecosystems are able to embed their offers in a broader set of customer needs.

This can be challenging. It requires business leaders to think beyond a traditional ‘value chain’ that their business model has been built on. We need to consider what could be the core of an ecosystem and its (typically) digital platform – the one or two features that drive customer take up and use. What can complement that core and ensures a broader set of needs are met – not just for customers but business partners and suppliers?

Will ecosystems be the business model of the future? Will thinking about how you could embed your product or service into a broader set of needs be a key strategic question to consider? Building, catalysing or joining an ecosystem (or ecosystems) could well become a core strategy for future growth. The legacy of an organisations cost base, structure and offering could be key barriers to overcome if you want to not just ‘connect the dots’ but work out how to win by being agile in a fast-changing world.

James Atkins
Vantage Strategy & Marketing

I recently attended the London Business School’s course on Exploiting Disruption in A Digital World where these, and many other such concepts were covered. The August Vantage Leaders Forum spent half a day exploring these issues and how they could be applied to their organisations.

If you would like to discuss running a workshop, or presenting a keynote, exploring the opportunities that these new ways of thinking open up, or how these models or technologies could be applied in your organisation, please feel free to contact me on 0419 516 655 or at jatkins@vantagemarketing.com.au

WEBINAR: To view a complimentary 45 minute webinar on Connecting the Dots click here



Agility is without doubt the management buzz word of the moment. Great Leaders are agile; organisations must reorganise to be agile; your products and services, and how you go to market, must have agility at its core…or so we are all told. ..

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