By Michael W. Durant, CCE, CPA
The increased pace of change that many of us have encountered over the past ten years has been dramatic. During the late 1980s, many of us were grappling with issues that we had never encountered. The accelerated use of leverage as a means of increasing shareholder wealth left the balance sheet of some of America’s finest organizations in disarray. Many of our largest customers, that for years represented minimal risk and required a minimum amount of time to manage, consumed most of our energy. By the end of 1993, many of these organizations had either resolved their financial troubles in bankruptcy court or no longer existed.
Just as we began to think the external environment would settle down and our professional lives would return to a normal pace, many of our organizations initiated efforts to improve operating efficiency to become more competitive in the world marketplace. Competition has heated up across the board. To succeed, the organization of the future must serve customers better, create new advantages and survive in bitterly contested markets. To stay competitive, companies must do away with work and processes that don’t add value.
This hypercompetition has invalidated the basic assumptions of sustainable markets.
There are few companies that have escaped this shift in competitiveness. Entry barriers, which once exerted a stabilizing force on competition, have fallen in the face of the rapid changes of the information age. These forces have challenged our capacity to cope with organizational life.
Permanent White Water
Things are not going to settle down. Many things we used to take for granted are probably gone forever. We cannot predict with any certainty what tomorrow will be like, except to say that it will be different than today.
Peter Vaill has captured the essence of the problem of a continuously changing context in a compelling image - “permanent white
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