Stay Ahead of the Curve– Shape Future of Your Business..: Convergence of Visionary Ideas and Creative Discomfort…

Stay ahead of the curve: When playing by the rules– one does the best they can; whereas when making the rules– one stays ahead of the curve… or game, or pack… and, others do the best they can…  

There’s a saying: Stay ahead of the curve. Translation? Keep your eyes open for change before it happens – such that you’ve already thought through how you’re going to make critical adjustments before it’s too late. Similar to ‘ahead of the pack’ or ‘ahead of the game’– ahead of the curve means being able to anticipate or initiate the latest innovations in your field; e.g., technology, markets, industries, global… so that you establish a position of leadership.

According to Peter Schwartz; the objectives of getting ahead of the curve are threefold: take advantage of opportunities that might otherwise be missed, prevent disasters if you can, and be better prepared if you can’t. In this highly interconnected and crisis-prone world, the job of intelligence is increasingly; anticipation, recognition, and preparation. No decision maker, especially in the transparent world of modern business, wants to be seen as a victim of events, having to improvise and stumble from one action to the next. The job of management is to be a master of events by getting and staying–ahead of the curve…

In the article Changing; Ahead of the Curve by Tim Breene, Walter E. Shill, Paul F. Nunes write: Many companies wait too long to attempt transformations, and they do so only when signs of trouble become obvious, which is inevitably too late. High performers, by contrast, change before they must, knowing that the best way to transform is from position of strength.

According to Fujio Cho; a company not willing to take the risk of reinventing itself is doomed… the world today is changing much too fast. Simply put, today’s success is no guarantee of tomorrow’s success. Yet, many companies wait too long until they are already facing big problems. Former Intel Corporation CEO Andy Grove popularized the business admonition that ‘only the paranoid survive.

Although clinical illness may not be a real necessity, there is no denying that high performing companies sense the need for market changes early, and act accordingly. In these companies, the culture fosters a kind of practical balance between- fear and excitement– that comes from success in overcoming constant challenge. One way companies create readiness for challenges is by introducing a steady stream of capability-building and performance-improving initiatives; creating the expectation that change is constant.

In his book ‘Jack: Straight from the Gut’, Jack Welch describes; these initiatives as something that grabs everyone— they are large enough, broad enough and generic enough to have a major impact on the company. To be sure, initiatives are not transformations; they are more akin to an athlete’s weight training: They give companies strength and preparedness to take on transformation. In the end, what high performers achieve through a kind of– creative discomfort– is better agility and reflexes to constantly rebalance themselves; more akin to the nimble responsiveness and fierce thrust of fighter jet, rather than the stable and predictable flight of a jumbo jet.

When change initiatives fail, they can often be traced to lack of management; alignment, buy-in, and active support. To overcome risk of derailment by management team issues, high performing companies create management teams that drive successful change, early, by assembling and empowering the right team for the right challenge.

This consists of three activities: ‘putting right people on the team; supporting them with right resources; and ensuring that everyone on the team is pulling in same direction’. Selecting the right people requires delicately balancing for both today’s and tomorrow’s agendas. It demands promoting next generation leaders early, and putting them into pivotal roles that change the future of the company…

In the article How To Stay Ahead Of The Curve And Be Successful by Annie Mueller writes:  The secret of being more successful than everybody else is not quitting when everybody else does. That’s how you go from mildly successful to wildly successful, and that’s how you dominate your field no matter what it is: You get a great product that is something different, or you find a new method that is better, or you take an idea further, or you come-up with a business plan that is the opposite of the mass movement, and you start making waves.

The key is to keep making those waves; the bigger the better… People notice and keep noticing waves; that’s how business becomes a powerhouse of– new, original, different, trend-setting, value-producing business moves… Dominate by putting out one idea after another, after another… Dominate by not quitting. Dominate by trying, failing, trying again… Dominate means: No self-doubts, no delusions, no indecision, no hesitation… Take your good ideas, and make them better, take them further, build them higher, show everybody how it’s done… get ahead the curve and stay ahead of the curve…

In the article Stay Ahead of Curve and Change the World by Gary Hamel writes: Business schools must alter their status quo or become obsolete. Business schools are not producing the kind of new business models and best practice that will change way management and business operate in the digital age. They are operating under traditional, unchallenged assumptions about what the mission of business should be, what a leader is, and what the relationships between a business school and marketplace should be.

They have capitulated by just adapting to the changes in the market; rather than leading it. The business schools must change, lead and become catalysts for business management innovation in the digital age… they must get ahead of the curve and shape the future. They must educate leaders and managers on how to build organizations where ‘responsibility for change’ is woven throughout the woof and warp of the organization. They must question the assumptions on which current management practice is based-on and reengineer them for the future.

They must prepare management to mediate between corporate interests and social interests. They must extend the reach of business education to serve all people, globally, which will require significant change on how business schools are structured and do business; restructuring fees, new delivery models, create business partnerships... It’s an imperative that business schools get ahead of the curve and become the change agents and innovators for management in the digital age…

In the article Staying Ahead of Competitors by Scottie Claiborne writes: There has never been an industry that moves as fast as the Internet. The ease of creating websites and web applications has made the competitive edge of being first, with something exciting and original, a brief fleeting moment in the sun. If your business depends on the Internet, you can’t rest. You’ve got to keep searching for something extra that will brand your business as leader and make it stand out from the rest.

It’s critical to know competition, but don’t follow their every move or duplicate everything they try. Trust your instincts. Be original. Be different. Be creative. Do your own research, try new strategies and new offerings that you believe in. While studying competitors can be shortcut to learning what works, it can also be a red herring and a waste of time. What’s working today for you will probably be imitated tomorrow and lose its effectiveness, but it’s critical that you continue to innovate, invent, think out-of-the-box, and stay ahead of the curve…

In the article Healthy Business: Staying Ahead of the Game by Joseph R. Byrd writes: In business, you always want to be ahead. You want to be ahead of the competition. You also want to be ahead of the trend. The companies that are out in front of the ideas are usually out in front of the pack, as well.  Despite the wording of that phrase, staying ahead of the competition rarely means worrying about what they are doing. You may be ahead of them in the proverbial race, but you are doing things within your own business to move forward rather than engaging them in any sort of struggle.  

In order to win, you have to take care of your own company. A big part of taking care of your business is taking care of those that keep it running: People. People are the core of business and staying ahead of the game or curve is more about taking good care of people than anything else. Think about it this way: Business health is dependent on employees’ health; the financial connection is undeniable: Business health improves with employee health. 

Unfortunately, there is often disconnect; the companies that realize how closely this dependence is linked are the ones leading the pack. They are the industry leaders. They are the ones that other companies try to imitate. They are the ones that everyone wants to work for. People are smart. There is reason that good workers continue to flock to good companies… To get ahead of the curve– you need good people; to stay ahead of the game or curve– you need to take good care of them.

Think quickly and react decisively is critical to success of business, and its hallmark for staying ahead of the curve… The willingness to think out-of-the-box and an openness to try new things… According to Sherri Edwards; the ability to stay ahead of the curve when dealing with change is an asset that cannot be replaced. Studies show that businesses must be agile and flexible, both in terms of thinking and organization process; i.e., aware of the world around you, alertness, mental sensitivity and agility, constant questioning…

These are all fine, but they are completely useless unless you also have the ability to deploy and redeploy resources, fast. This includes the ability to invest, divest, manage, and build infrastructure. The ability to get new business up and running, quickly; and if necessary, withdraw and redirect the business at limited cost.

According to Steve Jobs; innovation is the distinction between a leader that stays ahead of the curve (or pack, or game…), and followers. Having the visionary ideas to keep ahead of competition, and the willingness to take risks and go in directions that others have not even realized are available until it’s too late.

Innovation has little to do with the amount of investment and capital available to finance new research and development: It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how there are led, and how much you get it; says Jobs.

The key is having best and brightest people, and being able to turn really interesting ideas and fledgling technologies into a successful business that will continue to innovate, year after year… well ahead of the curve…