Game-changing businesses, the focus of this book, are disruptive and innovative start-ups and corporations that are reshaping economies in every sector in all corners of the globe. They are enterprises that find their own space and then shape it to their advantage.
The first section of the book looks at the mega trends influencing markets. The West-to-East shift is both intellectual and cultural as well as economic and is set to become north to south also as Africa rises, local to global (no borders) and global to local (no borders). Compare the fortunes of Air Asia with American Airlines and the growth of Tata with the decline of GM, author Peter Fisk notes.
Stock markets, he also notes, still group companies into classic boxes, with a different view of the financial risks with each. Sometimes companies can significantly boost their market valuations by declaring, like Time Warner did, that they are now in a different sector.
That involves more than superficiality, however. What matters is how you see your future.
Fast and agile favoured
The shift favours the fast and agile over the slow and stable. Success is not about volume and market share but about spotting profitable niches. Ideas are more important now than skills, as the latter can always be accessed.
Collaboration is vital as is diversity and engagement. Different is not enough, we need to be intimately relevant, in context or in demand.
Gender and generation shifts are occurring too. The role and influence of women in markets is increasing globally. They control $25 trillion of consumer spending.
US research quoted here suggests that they make around 85 per cent of all consumer decisions including 92 per cent of holidays, 80 per cent of home improvements, 60 of cars and 51 per cent of electronics.
The speed and impact or change is not only fast and relentless but it is also exponential. Networks have the most exponential impact of all, proliferating ideas and capabilities, power and potential.
What does it take to change the world? Passion, rebelliousness, a sense of optimism, and resilience are key, Fisk says.
On the latter point, the inventor James Dyson is cited as an inspiration. Dyson developed 5,127 prototypes before finding the right solution for a bagless vacuum cleaner, a feat of endurance he put down to his youthful stamina as a long-distance runner.
Innovators also typically have an ego which can be useful in terms of pushing themselves forward, Fisk says.
Thinking from the future back is a useful approach. This involves creating multiple scenarios of the future, based on the relative likelihood of certain events changing economies and societies in transformational ways.
Google, we learn, has a futurist in residence. His name is Ray Kurzweil and he believes in setting milestones to stimulate ideas but he also manages expectations. He has pencilled in 2017 for driverless cars, 2033 for solar energy and 2040 for "forever young".
This is not an abstract exercise. The trick is to connect “future back” with “now forward” so that strategy and innovation are not made staring into a vacuum but with an informed view of the future we want to create.
The third section of the book presents 100 case studies of enterprises nominated by 500 business leaders that demonstrate new practices. Much can be learned from these examples. Some win through deeper customer insights, others by building more engaging brand platforms, typically embracing social networks while also creating more personal and human experiences. Some underpin this with collaborative innovation, while others create models with new structures and leadership styles.
Fisk helpfully distils the approach of these enterprises and finds five key words to describe what these game-changers do: fuse, amplify, enable, mobilise and enrich.
The fourth and final part of the book provides a practical workbook for implementing game-changing strategies with key question posed and spaces provided for readers to answer a comprehensive series of questions.
Produced in wide format and attractively illustrated, Fisk’s book is a richly researched work on this interesting subject, well thought out and highly engaging.