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Why traditional thinking may be the riskiest strategy of all

While I was preparing to moderate a panel for the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce recently, someone asked me why we named our company New Kind? Perhaps it’s the gray hair. It’s understandable. It’s simple really. At New Kind, we believe that when competitive environments change, then strategy has to change too. And we know from Peter Drucker, when strategy changes then structure must change. That’s the math.

The business world is currently experiencing a change. In the recent past, industrial age competitive strategies—being the better machine, overpowering competitors, exploiting vendors and workforces, manipulating customers—created competitive advantage. Michael Porter captured this all so well in his Five Competitive Forces theory published in the late 1970s.

But today Porter writes of Creating Shared Value and in a recent Harvard Business Review article he described today’s companies this way:

They continue to view value creation narrowly, optimizing short-term financial performance in a bubble while missing the most important customer needs and ignoring the broader influences that determine their longer-term success.

In this land where customer needs and broader influences represent competitive opportunity, innovation and creativity become genuinely strategic. Where innovation and creativity are strategic, culturally-driven ‘flat’ organizational models, transparency, networked communities, and customer-driven innovation—drive competitive advantage.

In such an environment traditional thinking may be the riskiest strategy of all.

So really, it’s all about finding new kinds of ways to compete. When creativity is strategic, then purpose-driven organizations have an advantage. In this world culture trumps structure. And innovation—not marketing or advertising—builds brand. When everything is a commodity, it is brand that drives valuations. Gray hair or not, that’s New Kind math.

But only if you genuinely want to compete.

If, on the other hand, you’re more interested in securing your position or advancing your personal agenda, or if you’re afraid of diversity of opinion, or just particularly enjoy thwarting innovation, then by all means, old kind should still work just fine.

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