The Organization of the Future: A New Model for a Faster-Moving World

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It is a truism to state that on every important business index, the world is forging ahead at an unpredicted pace, and John P. Kotter sees the risks involved with this singularity—be they financial, social, environmental or political—rising in a similar exponential way. Professor Kotter sees the major challenge for business leaders today is staying competitive and growing profitably amid increasing turbulence and disruption. He argues that the fundamental problem is that any company that has made it past the start-up stage is optimized much more for efficiency than for strategic agility—the ability to capitalize on opportunities and dodge threats with speed and assurance—and today any company that isn’t rethinking its direction at least every few years (as well as constantly adjusting to changing contexts) and then quickly making necessary operational changes is putting itself at risk. The demands between what it takes to stay ahead of increasingly fierce competition, on the one hand, and needing to deliver this year’s results, on the other, are daunting. Kotter says the key to managing this complex situation is properly balancing the daily demands of running a company with identifying the most important hazards or opportunities early enough, formulating innovative strategic initiatives nimbly enough, and especially executing those initiatives fast enough.