5 Ways Forward-Thinking CEO’s Can Maintain Industry Leadership in an Evolving Economy

Every organization needs to find its place in the rapidly evolving world order. Here’s how I believe forward-thinking executives can lead the way.

Today’s overall mood of the global economy and our domestic economy is challenging for any business.

Many industries have fundamentally changed. For example, home entertainment distribution virtually imploded with on-demand, Redbox, and iTunes.

“The automotive industry no longer exists as an industry solely based on manufacturing,” said Pop-Up City editor Koen Knitel. “Of course, without factories there will be no cars, but this part of industry has left [us and] … The old manufacturing industry has made place for the automobile experience economy.”

“This consumer experience can be found in more and more types of industry, with experience stores popping up in inner cities to lure new customers,” said Knitel.

The far-reaching implications of economic changes are felt on the other side of the globe as well. To survive economic changes in industry, “A private shoemaking company in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, [adopts] new technologies to help its manufacturers maintain their competitive edge.”

Technology has increased their market leadership as “laser machines [help the company] improve its productivity… Before, it took a skilled worker an hour to make hollow patterns on a shoe’s leather upper wrap. But with the laser machine, everything is done in two seconds. ‘Few shoemakers worldwide have the technology. It boosts our efficiency exponentially,'” a company spokesman said.

A changing economic tide brings about one very important thing: opportunity.


Lead The Way in 5 Practical Steps

Every organization needs to find its place in the rapidly evolving world order, and every business within its industry must maintain its standing in that order. Here’s how I believe forward-thinking executives can lead the way:


1. Commit to quality over quantity, both in company size and product development.

With hugely profitable websites being run by 1-2 people, thousands of employees don’t make you powerful. They make you expensive, necessitating an ambitious output schedule. Keep only those truly dedicated experts and ask them to be accountable and resourceful; put out only quality products which the group can confidently, passionately promote.


2. Become less organized.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but less organization when it comes to staffing is essential. Organizational charts and major divisions were designed for the railway system. Each individual should bring expertise to a team, and teams should be flexible enough to allow everyone involved in a project to discuss it from conception to development. Nothing new should be executed in assembly-line fashion.


3. Make everyone an Imagineer.

It should be part of everyone’s job description in some way, rather than a title. Each individual has a responsibility to look at the world around them and consider ways to make it more effective, enjoyable, and interesting. Sure, they may need to collaborate with someone else to execute on it, but that’s the next point.


4. Collaborate more.

With the audience: Listen first. For example, do text-sentiment analysis in social media. Once you better understand the audience, introduce yourself and start contributing. Once you’ve built rapport, start asking questions. Give value, receive value.

The masses may not invent the next breakthrough idea, but they can certainly help the experts refine it into something with which they’ll engage (and, ultimately, make profitable).

Externally: Pay attention to those on the edge: the inventors, entrepreneurs, and influencers in niche areas. As recent years have proven, their output is having a major impact on the socioeconomic landscape. They probably won’t have the titles or expense accounts you are used to, but they may help you stay competitive.

Internally: Set common goals and ask a wider variety of experts to consider them. Just because an individual’s title has nothing to do with the issue at hand doesn’t mean they don’t have ideas about a solution. Ask the team at 37signals.


5. Build relational-strategic marketing campaigns.

Don’t tell me how I should feel about something. Don’t tell me what old critics think about your content. Build relationships with my friends and family. Ask us questions. Ask us for contributions. Consider and respond to our feedback. Provide us with useful and entertaining ways to incorporate your brand into our everyday lives.


Connect with Emily on Twitter.

Emily Eldridge is the CEO of Book’d, the clever online appointment scheduling software and Co-founder of The Agency Post, an international marketing community focused on collaborative learning and innovation. Emily also leads other entrepreneurial endeavors in the strategic communications and technology industries.


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