Rita McGrath, Inflection Points in Business – InnovaBuzz 340

Rita McGrath

Rita McGrath, Seeing Around Corners

In this episode, I’m really excited to have as my guest, Rita McGrath a best-selling author, a sought-after speaker, and a longtime professor at Columbia Business School. She is widely recognized as a premier expert on leading innovation and growth during times of uncertainty. Rita has received the #1 achievement award for strategy from the prestigious Thinkers50 and has been consistently named one of the world’s Top 10 management thinkers. As a consultant to CEOs, her work has had a lasting impact on the strategy and growth programs of Fortune 500 companies worldwide.

Rita is the author of the best-selling books “The End of Competitive Advantage” and “Seeing Around Corners: How to Spot Inflection Points in Business Before They Happen”, as well as three other books.

In our discussion, Rita and I talked about:

  • How to use indicators to “see around corners” – lagging vs current vs leading indicators
  • The disruption happening right now and how we can create our desired future
  • That snow melts at the edges and what we can learn from that.

Alexander Osterwalder in episode 293 introduced us to Rita.

Listen to the podcast to find out more.

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If you want to bring the message of leading indicators you have to craft a compelling story and provide a timeline. Making it real for people is crucial.  @RGMcGrath on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet

Show Notes from this episode with Rita McGrath, author of Seeing Around Corners

Key points and takeaways from this episode include:

  • A strategic inflection point is a shift in the external environment that causes a 10x change in something about your business. It changes the recipe that you’ve got for success, and it grows up in a moment in time when certain things are possible and certain things are not. It changes what can be done.
  • Inflection points take a long time before they show up and represent a threat to our business, but that’s where the opportunities lie, and if you are paying attention, you can get ahead of them.
  • Three Categories of Data
    1. Lagging indicators – are great information but you can’t change them. It has already happened.
    2. Current indicators – tell you where you are right now. 
    3. Leading indicators – have not happened yet.
  • Don’t confuse predictions with preferences. Try as much as you can to fight against your own biases when thinking about what the future could hold.
  • If you want to bring the message of leading indicators you have to craft a compelling story and provide a timeline. Making it real for people is crucial. 
  • It is when you have decided about what you are going to do with an inflection point that you need everybody on board.
  • Snow melts from the edges. The important inflection points in your business don’t announce themselves. The early warnings are to be found when a customer says something weird or when a salesperson says, “that has never happened before.” There’s a shift in the environment that whilst it is still early, it presages how a subsequent inflection point could unfold.
  • Go and experience yourself where some of these changes might be. Get out of the building.
  • The more senior you get, the harder it is to get unfiltered information. 
  • To get really clear on what is going with your customers and in the other parts of your organisation, create a climate in which people feel they can be presented with uncomfortable news and have mechanisms in place to really get out to the edges.
  • Manage your resource allocation across portfolios of activities wisely. 
  • Talk to other entrepreneurs. Explore things that come out of the research lab. Listen to young people who will be the employees of the future. These things give you a window to the future. These small investments buy you the opportunity to make a future a commitment.
  • COVID has been an accelerator. We’ve seen the rapid acceleration of digital transformation. Digital is essential now.
  • A lot of assets that people used to think were not essential are now going to be changing and valued.
  • Work is a thing you do, not a place you go to. 
  • A career is not something that puts the greatest pressure on people at their greatest moment of need for their personal life. 
  • Having power means that you have control over a scarce invaluable resource. We all have control over a scarce invaluable resource and those are our experiences, learning, and positions. We all have something to offer.
Don't confuse predictions with preferences. Try as much as you can to fight against your own biases when thinking about what the future could hold. @RGMcGrath on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet

The Buzz – Our Innovation Round

Here are Rita’s answers to the questions of our innovation round. Listen to the conversation to get the full scoop.

  1. #1 thing to be more innovative – Manage your innovation agenda. If you’re not taking it seriously, nobody is going to. Talk about it. Spend time on it. 
  2. Best thing for new ideas – Open your mind to a variety of ideas. New ideas are oftentimes concatenations of existing ideas that get mashed up together in a new way. Work from the customer back. Find those problems and pain points.
  3. Favourite tool for innovation – Social media
  4. Keep project/client on track – Discovery driven planning. Turn your strategy into a series of screening statements and boil it down to things that people can really understand.
  5. Differentiate – Find an unmet customer need that you are uniquely qualified to fulfill. Give yourself enough credit for the uniqueness that you have.

To Be a Leader

Where there is uncertainty, there is always opportunity. Get yourself ready to really be able and willing to move forward with it.

Reach Out

You can reach out and thank Rita through her website.

Suggested Guest

Rita suggested we have a conversation with David Kidder of Bionic. So David, keep an eye on your inbox for an invitation from us to the InnovaBuzz podcast, courtesy of Rita McGrath.

Links

Books

Cool Things About Rita

  • She’s been rated one of the 25 smartest women to follow on Twitter by Fast Company and was voted HR Magazine’s “Most Influential International Thinker.”
  • She’s one of the most published authors in the Harvard Business Review
  • She’s been elected as a Fellow of the International Academy of Management and has received the “Theory to Practice” award at the Vienna Strategy Forum.
Where there is uncertainty, there is always opportunity. Get yourself ready to really be able and willing to move forward with it. @RGMcGrath on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet

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Jürgen Strauss

Dr. Jürgen Strauss is a transformational marketing strategist, podcaster, speaker, the chief innovator and founder of Innovabiz who partner with innovative, exceptional business coaches and consultants to enable you to build visibility, professional credibility and a deep connection with your ideal, dream clients, so that you will achieve growth and be able to make a difference to more ideal clients. Jürgen's mantra is Let's Make Marketing Human again. He believes that marketing is the art and science of creating and sustaining exceptional, remarkable customer experiences and relationships. You can find Jürgen on LinkedIn, as well as on Innovabiz' Twitter, Facebook, The InnovaBuzz Podcast, The Tales of Marketing Transformation Show and his personal Photography website.

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