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Gustin Partners | September 01, 2015 |

Managing The Status Quos of Modern Existence

By Thornton May
Futurist, Senior Advisor with GP, Executive Director & Dean - IT Leadership Academy

When one encounters the phrase “status quo” in use today it typically refers to a singular phenomenon – as in THE status quo. In reality there is not one status quo, there are many and they need to be understood and aggressively managed.

One of the most powerful insights futurist Alvin Toffler shared with those seeking to buffer their organizations from yet-to-emerge uncertainties was the observation that things change at different rates.  These varying metabolic rates have to be synchronized if the organization is not to tear itself to pieces.

Here are some critically important pairs of status quos that need to be synchronized:

The Customer Experience We Deliver/The Experience Customers Expect
The Way We “Make” Strategy/Strategy Which Creates Value
How We Think About Emerging Technologies/The Market Reality
Customer Experience
I have always been amazed at the level of “Customer Ventriloquism” I encounter in many famous brand organizations. “Customer Ventriloquism” refers to the words that marketing professionals put in the mouths of customers. Customer ethnography reveals true customer behavior.

In 1998 Joe Pine and James Gilmore synthesized a four-stage model describing customer behavior: commodities; goods; services; and experiences. Each stage had a verb associated with it [i.e., you extract commodities; you make goods; you deliver services; and you stage experiences. Each stage also had a margin associated with it.

In a birthday scenario a company could expect to make pennies on the basic ingredients of the birthday cake – flour, sugar, butter and eggs; dimes on pre-mixed ingredients [think Betty Crocker]; dollars on bakery crafted cakes and hundreds of dollars on birthday experiences at places like Chuck. E. Cheese’s or Disney.

Customer expectations regarding the experience they expect are evolving rapidly.

Strategy Making
Michael Porter, professor at the Harvard Business School used to have a monopoly on strategy making. In the 1980s strategy was very competition-focused, i.e., business was all about defeating competitors, not necessarily about creating a better product or a differentiated customer experience. The way Porter suggested one crafted strategy did not change. Strategies that created value did. In 2012 Porter’s Monitor Group filed for bankruptcy.

How has your strategy making process changed in the last 20 years?

How We Think About Emerging Technologies/The Market Reality
Every year [actually EVERY week], someone, somewhere comes up with a new list of “Game Changing” technologies organizations have to interrogate and rapidly deploy if we are to have any hope of remaining “ahead of the curve.”

I agree that one needs to be situationally aware. One needs to be cognizant of the evolving technology landscape and be ready to deploy the “right technologies, in the right way at the right time.” This is easier said than done.

One of the technologies getting a lot of mind share these days is 3D Printing. Gartner currently positions this potentially disruptive technology half way up the “Slope of Enlightenment” curve. The slope of enlightenment is that moment in a technology’s evolution when documented “this is where value happens” use cases emerge; when 2ndand 3rd generation product sets are available and when one hears about a lot of pilots and proof of concept experiments.

If you are interested in identifying the true pace of this fascinating technology area you might want to talk to the Digital Metal subsidiary of Höganäs. They are a 3D printing service bureau.


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