Bob's Gutsy Leadership Blog

Creating the Crisis – A Necessity!

In shopping for a new smartphone recently to replace my trusted 3 year old Blackberry, it is amazing to see the speed with which new features have been emerging. The Samsung Galaxy S II, which I have fallen in love with, is equivalent to having in my pocket a powerful pc driven by a dual-core processor, an iPod, an e-book reader, a high-definition video recorder, a phone, and a small high-definition tv!

It is also instructive to note that the category leaders of 3 years ago, Nokia and RIM, are fighting for their lives, and many believe are not salvageable.

Why? Both were seduced by their success and were incapable of continually creating a crisis focused on the next big thing (like touchscreens and apps, which they should have jumped on before Apple, given their category leadership positions).

So how do you continually create the crisis that enables you to constantly stay ahead of your competition? Here are the key steps:

1. Isolate the Deadliest Scenario: What are the characteristics of the most devastating scenario that a competitor could launch? Sometimes it is technology-related, sometimes a new business model, a different marketing approach, a PR campaign, etc. Think thru the options with a group of some of the most knowledgeable and creative people on your staff.

2. Develop the Team: Form a small team to seize the scenario before a competitor does and make it happen.

3. One Person Accountability: The person leading the team should clearly realize that his or her performance appraisal will depend on the success of the effort.

4. Set Specific Deadlines: Sometimes deadlines need to be set arbitrarily, since you are early in the game, but remember, deadlines create urgency.

5. When Finished, Immediately Go to Step One: As Andy Grove, the retired CEO of Intel said, only the paranoid survive!

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