Friday, December 05, 2008

Change and strategy – the perils of success

For some thought provoking blog posts on strategy and change I would recommend the Random Rantings of Freek Vermeulen of the London Business School. This week he flags up some research coming out of the States that indicates that Chief Executives from high-performing firms were significantly more likely to interpret changes in their business environment as a threat than the their peers at poor-performers, who tend to interpret change as a positive thing.

Vermeulen suggests that this may be the cause of the “success trap” about which he writes:

ample research and statistics show, for a variety of industries, that especially very successful firms have trouble staying successful, and adapt to fundamental changes in their business environments (such as new competitors, different customer demand, radical new technologies or business models, etc.). Over the years, they focused on the thing that made them successful (a particular product, service, production method, etc.) and as a result became even better at it.

The times are certainly a-changing. We live in manic macro-economic environment. For the public and thirds sectors a bracing funding regime looks set to be even tighter. On top of that there is major institutional change in many areas such as the end of the LSC in further education and the de-merger of the Housing Corporation in social housing. It all makes an interesting laboratory for success, change and strategy.

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