Home > Andi, Strategy > Blindsided during the crisis

Blindsided during the crisis

I recently listened to an interesting podcast by the BBC titled Survival Strategy. One of the interviewees during the show was a lady called Margaret Heffernan, a consultant, CEO, and author. Her contribution got me thinking about strategy, and how the current economic environment could challenge the fundamental direction of a previously successful business.

Heffernan stated that we are all experiencing difficult trading conditions, with no sign of let up in the foreseeable future. We cannot blame the recession for everything. Truth is, we are all on par with one another, and must look to the future for inspiration rather than backwards. Those successful business people would have absorbed this fact some time ago, and will already be planning and even executing long-term strategies to weather out this storm.

Now, the challenge for us all is to think creatively. What is going on inside our business, and what opportunities can we look to exploit outside. This is when “wilful blindness” prevents these organisations from identifying potential opportunities. Heffernan believes that this blindness is caused by the key orthodoxies that are ingrained within individual company’s. She recently applied the term to describe how Rupert Murdoch and his family dealt with the phone hacking scandal as it was taking place, which gives a rich introduction into the significant issues this neglect of fact can lead to.

Using other examples, Dell’s orthodoxy was ‘boxed computers’, and at the time, this stopped them from taking advantage of the internet. Google concreted its focus on ‘really cool technology’, and this led them to fall well behind other companies who embraced social media.

These orthodoxies (or company missions) could blindside businesses during these turbulent economic conditions.

Now, what Heffernan didn’t go into was how to instigate this creative thinking within the organisation, and at what level it should be adopted. In a large organisation, would you want only the senior members to focus on steering the direction of the ship, or would you empower lower level employees to pass on ideas.

How would you structure this complete headshift? What are your thoughts on the company mission effectively blindsiding the business?

Categories: Andi, Strategy
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