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Complexity, Threat or Opportunity?

July 3rd 2010

Complexity, Threat or Opportunity?

I had barely left an exciting conference on the current and future challenges of the new economy business that I began to write the draft of this post.

This conference given by Mr. Benoit Montreuil, professor of the Canada Research Chair in Business Engineering at Laval University, joined me in a deep conviction: the complexity of our business environment is constantly increasing, making strategic, tactical, and tactical operational navigation more difficult and subtle. In my opinion, complexity can even lead to inaction and bring a business to a standstill.

What to do in the face of this well-established phenomenon? What strategic approach and what business model should we recommend? In short, I was ready to send a message such as: globalization and communications are exploding, the choices offered to your customers are multiplying, sharpen your management mechanisms, friends, to avoid serious problems!

A justified and realistic message, but colored a little bit of pessimism. A vision probably nourished by daily work to resolve various technical and commercial development issues. It is perhaps also fed by repetitive messages such as "it's complex, it won't be easy, it will take longer than expected" that the manager frequently receives from his troops.

Coincidence or not, here's Madam Post Office (yes, a mode of communication that still works) that sends me a few days later an IBM journal of a few pages on the theme of "Take advantage of complexity" and summarizing the results of a global survey of the management of various companies.

Bang! I get a flash. If complexity is here for good, it must become the strategic springboard for our organizational development. It's because there is complexity that we'll get better at our business.

It's a paradigm shift that turns an often chaotic business reality into a sea of ​​business opportunities. The strategic key: Better manage and take advantage of complexity than its competitors.

To get there, here are some suggested answers to deal with and take advantage of the complexity of your environment. You will find several elements that cross the conclusions of the IBM study.

In a world flooded with information, differentiating your offering becomes more and more complex when you don't have the promotional means of a multinational like IBM. And again, for them, it is not easy. Imagine!

Your best strategy probably lies in the accentuated personalization of your offer to meet the needs of your potential client as much as possible. It is from this perspective that the full commercial potential of complexity appears to us.

Indeed, it should be kept in mind that your potential client, if he now has an overabundance of choices, is grappling with the same business complexity except having to analyze a multitude of options to make a decision. Suppose the decision concerns a very strategic aspect of their business. In that case, your client's decision-making process only becomes heavier and, therefore, more complex in its perception.

If you can answer all of their pointed questions quickly and demonstrate your clear understanding of their needs, your strategic positioning has likely increased. Okay, nothing original so far from a classic selling point of view.

However, accentuating the personalization of your offer without a priori strategic thinking can also lead to the delivery of tailor-made products and solutions not grouped under a clear corporate orientation and, above all, profitable.

Therefore, the strategic idea of ​​getting as close as possible to your client's needs is faced with imposing organizational challenges that call for managerial creativity.

"Custom" and "Standard" seem poles apart while being, for the product manufacturer, two objectives that must be absolutely reconciled to maneuver and perform in the era of a global economy and the global democratization of communications.

We need to innovate as much in marketing mix components as in flexibility and standardization of manufacturing processes—an ambitious strategic management order.

In conclusion, the business leaders who want to take advantage of complexity must more than ever know how to step out of their comfort zone to reinvent themselves and their business. They must, therefore:

  • Be creative and represent creative leadership in promoting creativity within the company.
    Constantly be on the lookout for new models and ways of doing things.
  • Promote and embody the importance of the customer to redefine customer relationships and get closer to their markets. Be connected to the needs.
  • Stimulate the creation of organizational value with their team. Develop operational dexterity to minimize costs while maximizing the quality of deliverables.
  • Be agile and be ready to adapt at all times. Tolerate uncertainty and ambiguity while remaining mobilized by action and quick decisions.

The complexity of our business environment, therefore, hides exceptional growth opportunities. However, it also requires us, the leader, to become even better. An exciting personal project!

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