There’s a fine balance to strike between trying new things, staying on top of evolving products, markets, and technology, while concentrating forces for the main effort. That main effort should always be based on the company’s core strength, the centre of gravity that gives it balance and stability. The company’s other activities should be developed to protect the centre of gravity so resources can be concentrated on the latter and also to explore the margins of the business, so that senior leaders can anticipate strategic changes, new technologies, and new entrants. If you dissipate your forces, there will be insufficient resources for the main push when its needed. This is what happened to Blackberry. The company’s leadership failed to assess and leverage its centre of gravity in secure enterprise and institutional communications and messaging. The company that came up with a secure communications system that had the confidence of the US Department of Defense was unable to build on that critical strength. Instead, RIM sat on its enterprise advantage in security and reliability and tried to compete in the consumer market against Apple and the numerous Android devices. RIM dissipated its limited resources on fighting against Apple and Android devices in the consumer market, when it should have been concentrating on strengthening its efforts in the enterprise and institutional sectors.

Food for Thought
You have to decide on what can’t, or shouldn’t, be done. This will free up resources to focus the main effort on leveraging the business’s centre of gravity, with secondary and supporting roles to explore at the margins, scout out new opportunities and threats, and protect the company’s main advantages.

Richard Martin is a consultant, speaker, and executive coach. He brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to exploit change, maximize opportunity, and minimize risk.

© 2013 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

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