Tuesday, May 19, 2009

From the Military of Yesterday to the Corporations of Today.

The year is 1994, and I am slowly moving through a wood line, with my fire team close behind. I am suddenly blinded by the sun’s reflection off of a tiny object thirty meters ahead. I immediately halt and disperse my team into the trees. I squint to get a better view as I grab my binoculars. I then try feverishly to make out the object, but am unsuccessful. I instruct Cowen to join me for a recon of the forward position.

At a snail’s pace, Cowen and I slowly move forward, careful not to reveal our presence. We flank in closer, and I notice that it is a lookout post manned with two enemy soldiers. We immediately take cover and bring our weapons into firing position. As we look through our scopes, we instantaneously realize both soldiers are asleep on post. I quietly call out, “me left on three. One, two, three,” (thump, thump). One perfectly placed shot to each head. WE LIVED, and THEY’RE DEAD. Our team takes control of the forward position.

The exercise concluded, and today I can thankfully say, we were not actually put in the position of deciding life or death.

This is a story I use quite often when asked to speak with companies about the marketplace, but until recently, I never thought the implications of this story would apply so literally. Large corporations have spent millions of dollars over the years setting up lookout posts (around the country? world?). These corporate lookout posts are quite literally corporate management teams sent out to monitor market trends. The problem is the corporation’s processes have become so tangled in bureaucracy that they are unable to respond fast enough to stop the threats that close in on them.

Hence, “Corporations are asleep on post,” resulting in healthy businesses being battered by smaller mobile companies. These smaller companies are able to aggressively “flank in” and create new relationships with the large corporation clients. Smaller companies hone the edge by applying new technologies which streamline their processes. Then, they are able to pass the savings thus acquired onto their clients. Not only do these smaller companies save their clients money, they increase customer satisfaction through efficient delivery. Because of the smaller and more personal size of these companies, management teams are empowered. These teams are encouraged to seek out and pursue new business, and they are given the freedom to make quick and dire adjustments to fulfill their clients’ needs.

Large corporations must attack, not sit back! They must go mobile! They must use the tactics and ideas of smaller companies to remain dominant and keep up with their global competition. They must apply new technology to cut costs and speed up delivery processes. Power should be placed back in the hands of those who manage.These managers must immediately acknowledge the wants and needs of their clients on an individual basis, and be given the trust of corporation heads to respond to those wants and needs.

If no action is taken, large corporations will find that they have been silently and skillfully approached, and their “lookout posts” will be overrun by those with better techniques, better operation skills, and more updated corporative weapons.