How to Turn Ambiguity into Opportunity: A New Approach to Strategy Under Uncertainty
Asserting that the pace of change is accelerating is nothing new. That statement could arguably have started any article describing the challenges facing corporate leaders at any time over the past 150 years. Consider the broad changes the industrial and scientific revolutions unleashed. Trains, planes, and automobiles brought us closer together. Telegraphy wires and telephony enabled pervasive communication. Electricity changed the very nature of work and life. Modern medicine eradicated diseases, slashed infant mortality rates, and sharply increased life expectancy. Cities grew, crumbled, and surged again. The world of the business leader has always been uncertain, full of surprising twists and turns.
Yet, something today just feels different. Tightly intertwined markets mean ideas spread like never before. Ubiquitous smartphones, pervasive cloud computing solutions, and inventive platforms that provide on-demand access to just about everything allow companies to scale products and services faster than ever before. Unexpected competitors and fast-shifting customer tastes are upending established market leaders at an increasing rate. Business models that worked reliably for decades are struggling to deliver growth. Your customers today are
unlikely to be your customers tomorrow.
This level of change and unpredictability requires approaching strategic decisions in a new way. Traditional approaches are insufficient because they analyze the past to predict the future. They are facing in the wrong direction. This article draws on academic research and Innosight’s own field work to provide our suggestions about how to approach strategy through uncertainty. Our view is that today’s ambiguity brings tomorrow’s opportunities. Business leaders equipped to act in the face of uncertainty can build paths to growth that have not yet been imagined. They can own the future, instead of being disrupted by it.
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