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Beyond transformation: A Journey from Inertia to a State of Regeneration

Updated: May 6, 2023

Although recognised as the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” the reality is that there is no date when a forcible overthrow of our social order will occur following the escalation in use of digital technology. Rather, there will continue to be an ongoing program of evolutionary change which admittedly, will have as its driving force considerable disruption.

Acceptance of this reality has important implications for the strategy practitioner. Instead of preparing for the day when the big change arrives, strategy practitioners must instead develop the means to both adapt (respond) and invent (prospond) the ways and means for corporations to continually evolve if they are going to not only survive but thrive. The SMI refers to this evolution as a state of regeneration. As illustrated below (SMI Cycle of Organisational Transformation and Renewal) however, there is much preparation and change to be managed before the state of regeneration is reached and sustained.

The idea of regeneration and creative disruption is not new. In 1942 an economist Joseph Schumpeter proposed the notion of a ‘perennial gale of creative destruction’ as the driver of entrepreneurship and indeed the basis of capitalism itself. Our interpretation of Schumpeter’s work combined with our own research led us to the identification of the cycle of transformation and renewal illustrated. Fundamental to our research was the observation that those organisations entering a formal transformation were much more likely to succeed if they had a clear picture (strategy) of a future outcome than those that were simply seeking to reduce costs.

Similarly, we identified that to sustain a state of regeneration the concept of Green Shoot Strategy was a useful tool to help regeneration survive. Regeneration and Green Shot strategy are part of our Third Wave Strategy methodology, explained in detail in our two recent books - Corporate Strategy (Remastered) I and II. (1) As illustrated above a state of regeneration is described as one of “continual transformation and renewal of the entity that evolved from the original transformational change”. It is concerning however that with little appreciation of the existence of the foregoing and its absence from strategy practice, it is apparent that:

“although most corporations have a clear idea of what they want the outcome from their transformation to be, they do not necessarily have a clear understanding of how they will get from the desired outcome to a state of regeneration”.

This is important because whilst many corporations are contemplating or are engaged in the introduction of transformative change, they will more than likely be designed for short term ‘single use’ transformation (with an overemphasis on short term gain) rather than the establishment of a program of long term value creation. SMI has shown specifically that addressing this issue leaves its instigator with a legacy from their actions, an acknowledgement as the originator of a future proof, sustainable corporation.

1. Hunter, P., Corporate Strategy (Remastered) I High Performance Strategy and Leadership in a Volatile, Disrupted World, Routledge, 2020 1. Hunter, P., Corporate Strategy (Remastered) II: A Fieldbook, Implementing High Performance Strategy and Leadership, Routledge, 2020

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