Existen artículos y libros que hablan del “fin de la ventaja competitiva”. En ellos se explica que la empresa del futuro se basa tanto en activos tangibles como en activos intangibles, conecta –en vez de dividir– intereses y destaca por el alineamiento de valores en vez de la competencia entre intereses, empresas y mercados.
Puede sonar idealista dentro de una sociedad y un mundo de negocios que se vuelve más competitivo cada día, pero a raíz de este movimiento, en la administración de empresas hay una idea muy sencilla y comprobada: un enfoque equilibrado es la clave para que una empresa tenga éxito en el corto, mediano y largo plazo.
Si nos enfocamos sólo en ganancias, no invertimos en proyectos innovadores. Si seguimos sólo lo que hace la competencia, no tenemos apertura hacia ideas nuevas e innovaciones que crean mercados (como explica Clayton Christensen en su libro The Innovator’s Dilemma). Steve Jobs, durante sus años creando productos para su empresa Apple, decía que no le importaba lo que quería el mercado, porque el mercado no sabía lo que quería.
La idea fundamental del “fin de la ventaja competitiva” es que no nos encerramos en lo que hace la competencia ni en generar retornos. Las organizaciones tienen que redefinir el éxito; por ejemplo, la nueva ventaja competitiva puede ser la conexión de la empresa con la sociedad. Empresas que son conectadas con sus stakeholders y crean productos y servicios que tengan relevancia en las vidas de ellos (ejemplo: Netflix, Uber, etc.) son mucho más exitosas que las empresas que niegan los cambios en los deseos y comportamiento de sus clientes. La conexión entre una empresa y sus seguidores hace la diferencia siempre y cuando la empresa tenga contemplada esta apertura a la innovación y conexiones inesperadas.
¿Cómo lograr este equilibrio entre proyectos innovadores que no generan ganancias todavía y los servicios o productos que son codiciados en el mercado? Existen tres áreas estratégicas donde una empresa del futuro “vive” este equilibrio:
Una reevaluación de la definición del éxito a través de la visión organizacional y los planes de inversión (incluyendo mitigación de riesgo y de inversión en innovación/investigación y desarrollo) dice mucho de qué tipo de empresa queremos ser y si estamos aprovechando la innovación y la conexión de intereses. La empresa del futuro, entonces, necesita un liderazgo que tenga una visión amplia del éxito y de la prosperidad basada no sólo en la ventaja competitiva.
This blog post was originally published in September 2015 by Forbes Mexico as a featured business article.
“Care a little more.
Tell the truth.
Seek the truth behind the story.
Ask the difficult question.
Lend a hand.
Dance with fear.
Play the long game.
Say ‘no’ to hate.
Look for opportunities, especially when it seems like there aren’t any left.
Risk a bigger dream.
Take care of the little guy.
Offer a personal insight.
Build something magical.
Keep your promises.
Do work that matters.
Sign your work.
Be generous for no reason.
Give the benefit of the doubt.
Make your mom proud.
Play by a better set of rules.
Choose your customers.
Choose your reputation.
Choose your future.
Thank the ref.
Because we can.
It really is up to us. Which is great, because we’re capable of changing everything if we choose.
All we can do is all we can do, but maybe, all we can do is enough.”
Did you know that Benjamin Franklin, founding father of the USA, was once a poor writer?
Now recognized as an important politician, inventor, scientist and writer, Franklin was not always this way. In fact, he considered himself a poor writer but took an active interest in improving his writing capabilities. The poems and articles authored by Franklin are the fruits of his labor; he worked on his storytelling skills by deconstructing and reconstructing what he considered “great writing.”
He did this by taking a magazine of the time – The Spectator (equivalent to the modern day The New Yorker), finding an article he liked and as he read the article he would highlight arguments and write down key points and data. When he was finished, he would write the article himself using the notes he had taken. Later, he would compare his article to the original and see where his writing was weak, where it was better and what writing conventions he needed to work on.
After much practice, he soon got “better” than the best articles and went on to write poetry, prose, rhetoric etc.
The moral? The Ben Franklin method works – if you want to get better, consider looking at the best and deconstructing then reconstructing the work of art, project, plan,…whatever it may be. The term “neurotic spreadsheeting” has been used to describe this method but the story of Ben Franklin is always sure to inspire us to take action in actively improving our storytelling or other skills.
I was hired to work for BMW Group Canada fresh out of grad school. I bought myself a beautiful pair of Prada heels and some gorgeous new suits to celebrate and from my first day working in the President’s office, I took executive management’s mantra seriously: work hard and play hard.
Looking back at that time – 12 years ago – I feel tremendously pride in what I learned (and contributed) at BMW. I learned about branding and about love for a brand; I’m not talking about love for a car, or a luxury product, or 5 star customer service, or the fabulous parties and events; no, I learned that a company and product can have a personality and that personality is transmitted through a brand and carried forward by every single employee and follower/client of the brand. Everything that we feel, think, believe, experience about a product, service or organization makes up a brand and to put it very simply, I was blessed to have been immersed in this amazing learning experience right after graduation from my Master’s program.
Most of my MBA colleagues went into banking, some others into consumer products, and still others into consulting services but my decision to join BMW was twofold: 1) I wanted a job that would stand out on my resume (and working for one of the most internationally recognized brands will do that quite nicely!) and 2) I wanted to work with executive management and board members to understand how “big decisions” are made. Both elements have helped me in my professional career and the investment I put into BMW as an employee was richly rewarded: the lessons I learned in branding have been present in many aspects of my life: from writing, my consultancy and the decisions I have made as a professional.
Working at BMW, I ended up learning more about branding than I ever thought possible. It probably started during my very first week when my boss – the President of BMW Group Financial Services – told me he got me a new BMW to drive since it was important that I “love the car.” And from that moment on, the learning never stopped; to this day I am continually impressed by BMW’s ability to reach the heart and minds of consumers. I still remember hearing about “corporate identity” (or “CI” as I learned how to call it) and experiencing the rush that comes with driving a series 7 down the 401 in Toronto or participating as a sponsor in Formula One in Montreal.
Photo: Esther Clark at Formula 1 in Montreal, Canada. Part of BMW’s sponsor team.
Branding is not about a marketing strategy or an advertiser’s storyboard or the color or look of your logo. It is about connecting your product or service to a human being and doing this in a meaningful, coherent and continuous way. I may just be BMW’s biggest fan in Quito, Ecuador: I love the brand, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
I have spent the last ten years in Ecuador. I though it was about time to start highlighting some of the beautiful discoveries I have made in these years living and working in Ecuador. I’m calling this series Ecuador 3.0 to reflect the Marketing 3.0 idea created by Kotler – that brands need to connect, engage and live in tandem with the wants/needs/desires/values of customer. Ecuador 3.0 is born!
Guitig recently paired up with some talented local designers to create unique bottle designs. More info here (in Spanish).
Drink it in!
In international business, like in politics, local guides or experts are key to obtaining advantages in new markets. Here, two excerpts from the Art of War:
Those who do not use local guides are unable to obtain the advantages of the ground.
We should select the bravest officers and those who are most intelligent and keen, and using local guides, secretly traverse mountain and forest noiselessly and concealing our traces…we concentrate our wits so that we may snatch an opportunity.
Now, more than ever, the power of collaboration is manifesting itself across space and time. Digital tools are helping us to create connections between seemingly disparate interests and to solve problems on a global scale. Nevertheless, in regions in development and, in particular, in Latin America, there exists a range of problems in the public and private sectors that could be solved through collaboration, innovation and excellence. Problems such as energy generation, response to natural disasters, and high school desertion to name just a few. Design thinkers say that collaboration is viable when there is a better understanding of users, a relevant place to prototype ideas and the built-in motivation to implement those ideas. If you turn this around, it holds true that if you don’t have these three elements, collaboration – and the viability of using “community” to solve problems – may just be impossible. What is happening in Latin America, then, to make “community” viable? Perhaps a closer look at these three elements can help us see why the region is falling short.
First, when we better understand users, we can better address needs and design a product or service that fits those needs. Seems simple, but implementation of this element is difficult in high context cultures such as those that exist in the majority of countries in Latin America. In cultures that encourage alignment with social status and formal social rules, understanding users – and users in multiple interest groups – is a challenge. It involves using interviewing techniques and empathy to gain a complete understanding of stakeholders and usage. Understanding what question to ask and being able to bring the answer from various areas into context, helps form an accurate picture of users and their needs. Striving for a better understanding of users – and using multiple research methods in order to overcome cultural characteristics – is key in solving users’ problems.
Second, designing solutions must be an interactive process. We will always need a place to work with stakeholders, test assumptions and take risks. This is why innovation centers sometimes fail: they need to work with community and not in isolation from them. Nevertheless, innovation centers in Latin America specifically are extremely useful in fostering more cross functional collaboration and mitigating some of the risks associated with large scale innovation investments in developing countries. Multinationals Dupont and BBVA as well as “multilatina” Stefanini have successfully gained insights and new products through their centers; illustrating that while innovation centers may have their drawbacks, they can be a relevant place to prototype ideas.
Finally, motivation must be present at the idea implementation phase. This means that while we may have a prototype or project, there is always more work to be done in implementing the idea. What can help with the successful implementation of the idea is community. As the old saying goes, people are more committed to that which they help build. If communities are collaborating on ideas that benefit them; they will have a higher successful implementation rate. There is also the possibility for the ideas that spread. Like a TED Talk, a good idea can spread and be implemented much faster when members of community that will benefit from the idea get involved and share their passion around a solution.
Is community viable? Yes it is. But seeing collaboration for what it is – working towards understanding users, engaging users and prototyping with users in the Prototype-Pilot-Product triad – makes community collaboration viable. In Latin America in particular, understanding these elements and their unique challenges in our region, is essential in community viability.