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Trade Routes: Global Market Warming

By: Michael Wynne
Posted: October 9, 2008, from the October 2008 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Rising consumer sophistication has led to a new and powerful expectation, the desire for new products, services and experiences. To satisfy this growing expectation, businesses everywhere need to incorporate an equally new discipline into their daily operations—continuous innovation. Marginal improvements no longer suffice. Motorola introduced an exciting design when it launched the Raz’r, but as competitors came out with similar designs and new functions, the Raz’r lost its edge. While design can be aesthetically pleasing, it is not enough in the long run; customers want added benefits and value.Global market warming is melting glacial companies everywhere. Slow-moving companies will falter if they fail to keep up with fast-growing consumer expectations, and companies with huge and largely inefficient infrastructures can no longer deal with the pace in which the business environment is changing.

Resilience in Changing Times

In order to keep up with and eventually stay ahead of these inevitable global trends and changes, businesses must be resilient, must accept the fact that, at some point, they will be blindsided by unexpected, super-hot changes in the markets, and need to prepare accordingly. Resilience will be a key trait for survival, and this demands quick recognition and response to significant, but often subtle, market changes.

A Culture of “Bouncebackability”

Risks are out there and always will be, but what counts is our ability and readiness to bounce back when they hit. How can we be prepared to bounce back? The U.S. Council on Competitiveness says: “Focus on creating a culture that emphasizes resilience and improved operational risk management, i.e., not necessarily knowing what risks will occur, but having the ability to respond to them, whatever they are, in order to keep going and improving.” The key word being culture.

To develop a culture capable of bouncing back from unexpected set backs, business leaders must set the tone of resilience and constant innovation at the top. Leaders must live up to the values and behaviors they demand of others and not fail to reward those employees who display and practice them.

In doing so, a company will build the necessary methods and culture to deal with quickly changing markets and consumers.

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