The Four Challenges for the Next Five Years


Tom Stewart listed the four challenges managers face now that are critical for the next 5 years:

1. Speed: Everything is moving faster and faster, markets never stop, etc., all leading to much pressure on decision makers. We must get strategic direction right, and give people decision support tools they need.
2. Customer Power: Every industry is being taken over by its customers. How do you deal with customers when they have more economic clout than you?
3. Low cost competition: Every industry is threatened by competitors who can deliver product at half its cost!
4. Decision-making under uncertainty and management without supervision. The first 100 years of management have been about controlling risks. Now we live in a world of uncertainty. Must make decisions when we don’t know risks. All of us have more power at our fingertips, so we’re less predictable.

These 4 things put tremendous stress on the decision-making process.

Do these challenges only apply to manufacturing and not to knowledge companies? No way! They are especially important in knowledge companies! As Stewart emphasized, knowledge separates success from failure. Stewart took a vote, asking the audience what is more important: Things you can depreciate, like products or materials; or people, skills, imagination, and the knowledge they have. In all of his experience, nobody has voted for the depreciable assets (and the Online audience was no exception)!

A great opening for the conference and lots to think about in the next few days!

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today

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