Part 7 of What a Go-To Does Differently: Adapts

This is the seventh installment of a multi-part series to talk about what a Go-To does differently from the me-too pack:

Now what?

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A Go-To Constantly Adjusts and Adapts

The world is continuously changing, and a Go-To keeps an eye on the horizon to constantly adapt to market conditions, evolving customer needs, and other factors that impact a company, like the economy, politics, regulatory policy, technology and so on. It even reinvents itself, when necessary.

A Go-To maintains humility and a healthy paranoia. I remember being in meetings with the senior leadership at Accenture when it was flying high with record growth and profits, and you’d have thought from the conversation that the company was on the verge of going out of business. The executives in the room understood that Accenture’s fortunes, like those of any company, could turn on a dime. The team took the same earnest attitude toward its strategic planning activity as a struggling startup does.

A Go-To also understands that, regardless of how unique its current offerings are, it will face competition. The market will invariably begin to fill up with me-toos going for a slice of that pie, so the Go-To must watch its back and work to stay ahead of the pack.

Technology companies, in particular, can’t stand still for three seconds before a competitor pops up or market conditions change. Oracle started as the only relational database company, but of course competitors came along, followed by new technologies. Though Oracle, by far, still maintains a solid leadership position in that space with nearly 50% market share, it is no longer the same company. It has built on its strengths to broaden into many technology and software solution areas, including numerous specialty niches, such as inventory management for communications service providers.

As of this writing, Apple, Google and Microsoft are the world’s three most valuable brands according to Forbes, but you’d never know it from the healthy paranoia pulsing throughout the headquarters of all three. None look the same as they did in the early days, and they all know that their offerings could become obsolete at any moment. They are always working intently on their next innovations.

A Go-To understands this: Companies that don’t change or don’t change fast enough often perish. As Andy Grove put it in his book, Only the Paranoid Survive:

…the person who is the star of a previous era is often the last one to adapt to change, the last one to yield to logic of a strategic inflection point and tends to fall harder than most.”

In recent years, some stalwarts within their markets, like IBM, have suffered for not embracing the trend toward cloud computing quickly enough. Over the next decade, it will be companies that don’t embrace the Internet of Things trend.

To really bring this point home, consider the S&P 500 Index. According to an Innosight 2012 study summarized in the briefing, “Creative Destruction Whips Through Corporate America,” an S&P company is replaced every other week; and whereas companies in 1958 stayed on the index an average of 61 years, today the average tenure is just 18 years. In the decade leading up to the study, over half of the companies had been replaced.

What This Means for You

Whether you are part of a large company or a startup, be sure you are constantly monitoring market changes and trends on the horizon and then analyzing how they might impact you. Look at what you need to do to adapt. The “Creative Destruction” paper I referenced above offers some pointed advice applicable to any company and talks about how P&G is doing it successfully, and I’ll be sharing additional tips in forthcoming posts.

Subscribe to the blog and stay tuned for some tactical how-to guidance.

Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Moats (yes, the castle kind)

There is so much to say about this LinkedIn blog post by Bill Gates that I don’t know where to start. First, the humility of it is marvelous. He’s essentially self-made and at a very young age, at that – an entrepreneur. On and off, he’s been the richest person on the planet. His foundation is so effective that Warren Buffet decided to hand his wealth over to it rather than start another. And yet, Bill Gates decides to use his first official blog post on LinkedIn to talk about what he’s learned from someone else – Warren Buffet. Beautiful.

I also love the nuggets he picked out. One is the moat metaphor. Warren Buffet taught him to think of a company’s competitive advantage as a protective moat and to look at whether the moat is shrinking or growing. He talks about it through the eyes of an investor, but we should all be doing it for our own companies. Are we adequately differentiated? How sustainable is it? How quickly are other companies catching up? How is the market changing and what will that do to our moat?

Another interesting aspect of this post is that it demonstrates LinkedIn’s strategy of providing useful content to increase engagement. Judging from the number of views, likes, comments, etc. on this post already, I’d say the strategy is working. LinkedIn wants to be more than just a tool you use while job hunting. It wants to draw users in on a daily (or more) basis. It was a coup getting Bill Gates and similarly high-profile people to agree to participate. IMHO, LinkedIn has only begun to scratch the surface of its full potential, particilarly as a B2B sales and marketing tool. That will come with time, esp. once they break out of the recruiting mentality and really open up their thinking. I can see a day when it replaces Salesforce.com. But I digress…

Back to Bill Gates. One more observation, and then I’ll make myself stop: The hook is great. He gives you a two-fer – Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. The post is almost impossible to resist. And the title promises big value: Three Things I’ve Learned From Warren Buffet.

It’s a quick and easy read. But you’ll get more out of it if you take a few moments to really think about how you could apply each of his three tips to your business, job and life. Enjoy.