by:  Idris Mootee

I was surprised to receive so many responses from my last post on "management buzzwords", including dozens of emails, I guess that resonates with many of you guys. I personally think the underlying reason for that behavior is simply because many people simply have no idea of how to deal with their business challenges, so they resort to using buzzwords to give the perception that they have the answers.

Many executives have the toughest time making the right calls when there are too many uncertainties in the business environment. Rather than carefully examine all their strategic alternatives, they quickly jump to a quick solution (management concepts) and assume all problems will go away. 

The right thing to do is not to introduce these fancy buzzwords or ideas, but simply to reframe the business challenge through new lens and understand where the shift is heading. If the rate of change outside an organization exceeds the rate of change inside the organization, the end is in sight. The changes outside the organization driven by generational, technological and economic drivers are actively reconfiguring the competitive space. It is time for "re-framing".

This new interconnected and hyper-competitive environment is changing the actor, the time, the place of all value added activities. Consumers are now the key actors. The optimal reconfiguration of these dimensions is one of the key challenges of our time. The most pressing strategic question for these businesses is how to use digital technology and value networks to reconfigure the value proposition and business model of their organization.

Lou Gerstner's reframing of IBM business resulted in four themes, notably the shift from product company to service company, buying Lotus, walking away from Prodigy and reduce reliance on mainframes and PCs and shifting 25% of their R&D efforts to develop Internet applications. "Reframing" is not the job of the CEO alone, is it the responsibility of all senior executives. And I would argue it is everyone's job.

Today IBM is still continuing to reframe their business, last summer IBM was re-imagining their future and the topic was no surprise "innovation". They committed $100mm in development fund for best ideas and they brought these framing exercises to everyone in the organization with something which they called "Innovation Jamming". The 72-hour jam involved 57,000 people logged on a common platform and shortly afterwards 40,000 posts were collected. A group of 50 people sorted out the best 31 ideas and they produced a business case for each one of these ideas. They were rated based upon business impact, societal value and market readiness. I can already see we can even invite customers into this "re-framing" process.

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