contemporary change programs for TQM, JIT, SQC, etc. advocate a
checklist of organizational prerequisites that must be met to ensure
success. In most cases, if those prerequisites were met, the company
would have already made significant progress toward the program
objectives! As organizations, we do not typically have the luxury of
time and foresight to prepare so completely before declaring war!
The key is to assess the organizational strengths we have and
deploy them with a strategy that can gain ground while the other
prerequisites are addressed.
start of the 1980s the half-life of technical knowledge in
engineering was estimated to be about 10 years. Today, that same
estimate pegs the half-life at approximately 5 years. The
companies that first mobilize new technical knowledge in their
products steal a significant march on their competition. As access
increases and our global economies intertwine we must consider
global markets and be aware of global competitors or risk ambush
from an unsuspected quarter.
this new technical knowledge has been harnessed for use in
information processing. Many companies now realize that the first to
mobilize information technology to create new ways of doing business
can also outflank their competition. More manufacturers are
impacted daily as these new methods move back up the supply chain
from the retailer and distributor. The combined effect of this
rapidly changing battlefield is the less than half of the Fortune
500 identified in 1980 are still on that list today! This is a war
that will be won by the attackers who constantly challenge the
status quo and themselves with innovative products and approaches to
conducting their business.
interesting and useful to think of analogies of war when considering
how to respond to this new, dynamic environment. In 542 the Huns
swept across continental Europe leaving conquered countries in
their wake. Theirs was a unique approach to battle at that time and
achieved success over larger numbers of better armed adversaries. It
is no surprise that the Battle Secrets ofAttila the Hun is a
current bestseller! The successful attacker is the one who examines
the battlefield, determines his strengths and changes the rules of
the first world war, the French vowed that no one would ever again
breach their eastern boundary. They constructed the Maginot Line as
a solid wall of defensive fortifications against
their foes. The new
strategy of Blitzkrieg rendered the defenses ineffective and left
France poorly prepared for the unforeseen threat. In the battles of
companies and economics the battlefield is the marketplace and the
vanquished are bankrupt rather than dead, but the same principles
apply. The strongest must abandon their technologies and skill base
when all is going well if they are to reinvent themselves to survive
on this dynamic battlefield.
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