What is the life expectancy of your company?

Bike, Flower, Lampost, strategy, innovation, life expectancy


Faced with a journey, you’ve got choices: plan the route or start walking (driving, cycling – whatever you choose).

Planning feels logical. Get the map out, plug coordinates into a sat nav and see how long it takes. Your route to a final destination, plotted via a set of well-worn pathways.

The expected outcome is clear.




So, what about the journey to a new destination that hasn’t been visited before, by anyone, ever?



Things aren’t as clear now. It’s harder to know how to get there. You might not even be sure where ‘there’ is. How do you take the first step?

This is the problem that an innovation process tackles.

Now we’re talking about a different set of variables: who is your target customer and what will they be struggling with at the end of your product development process? With technology and competition developing at current rates, you can’t assume that today’s customer will be the same in six months’ time.


This is why we look at time horizons and consider new trends – not data. Data is historical. Trends are emerging. There’s a major difference in their usefulness when it comes to plotting your customer need as it will develop – not as it did.

Think of it like this: over the course of, say, five years, lots of products will fade from the market. Trends like electric vehicles are growing. Consequently, the bits and bobs that sit under the bonnet of your family saloon won’t be needed in the numbers they are today. Stuff like carburettors, exhaust pipes and so on.

and place

If you make carburettors or exhaust pipes, you have time to develop a new strategy – but not much. Deciding what you’ll do when exhaust pipes aren’t needed; raising finance; buying and receiving new machines; becoming a player in a new product segment…all these things take time.

A five-year window isn’t very big at all, and by the time you make it to market with a new idea that meets a need today, that need will have moved on.


This quote from the World Economic Forum says it all

  1. The right strategic vision is critical– in addition to anticipating what your customers are going to want, you need to define the depth and scope of the changes and redesign your internal processes and broader ecosystem.
  2. Execution is the hardest part of transformation– more than half of all companies undertaking transformation will fail to achieve their desired outcomes. One of the most common stumbling blocks is underestimating the operating model refinements that will be required across the organisation.
  3. Beware leaders who are clinging to past or current successes – this is the hypnotic siren song of the status quo. Transformation needs to be a continuous, never-ending process rather than a distinct ‘event’.

The article’s called “What is the life expectancy of your company?” It’s a good question.

room44 has a process for helping you succeed in a changing market place. It’s called the Programme for Changemakers. Click below for details.

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