Flying a kite in a hurricane
// Creating space to play //
Flying a kite is all about watching out for the right conditions and making agile adjustments along the way, taking into consideration wind and space. Now, I must confess I am not much of a kite flyer – despite my various attempts to teach my young children
on the weekends. I recall the days, as a child, when I attempted to build kites out of plastic bags and string; much to my disappointment - my attempts to build a kite were seldom successful.
Over the years, I have ran a series of innovation events with several clients, in which I asked the question:
How would you fly a kite in a hurricane?
The clients were similar in many ways – they offered a commoditised set of multi-channel of products, and they operated within markets that have becoming increasingly crowded with incumbents and new entrants. Competitors are providing customised products
digitally and capturing high-value custom in the process. Their competitors are also demonstrating increased levels of business agility.
The innovation events were designed to allow the executives to think differently and consider alternative perspectives. Occasionally, participants will use these sessions to demonstrate their intellectual prowess at the expense of others and, moreover, negatively
disrupt the organisation’s ‘nervous system’. In situations like this, I recall the feedback that Sir Clive Woodward received from a UK Royal Marine Trainer during the England Team’s 1999 Rugby World Cup preparations; ‘Ok, if you want to hear it, there are
individuals in your squad who we wouldn’t go into battle with. It’s not about their skills, it’s about their attitude and effect on the team.’ UK Royal Marine
// The winds of change //
We all operate within markets where the winds of change - blow constantly but vary in force. The challenge faced is one of anticipation – the anticipation and calculation of the current and approaching head winds, the creation of the space to play and, over
time, the transition from flying single kites to performing kite acrobatics.
The evolution from successfully flying a single kite to performing kite acrobatics involves a number of factors. Those businesses that combine agility within strategy, strategy execution, maximise and invest in human capital and leverage the correct-sized
technological innovation will be the ones that fly their kites in the strongest of winds. Those that follow the competition and not the customers, and those that fail to consider the enterprise and execute in a sub-optimal manner may find themselves running
out of air space - crowded out by kites performing acrobatics at their expense.
‘Strive not to be a success, but rather to be value’ – Albert Einstein
The challenge that the industry faces is one of relevance, necessitating ambition, bravery and timely execution.
How is your kite flying?