12 Jun Dynamics of Wisconsin’s “Real-Time Economy” Part 3
This week a leading information technology publication named four traditional Wisconsin companies as the best places in America to work in IT. All four placed in the top 50 out of 100. Harley-Davison was ranked number 2, higher than MasterCard, Wal-Mart, Ford, and UPS. American Family Insurance was ranked 22, Lands End 34, and TDS was ranked 40. What do all of these companies have in common? They all use innovative technologies that make their companies more competitive, efficient and profitable. From inventory and logistics management to improved customer service they all operate and respond in real-time to changing business conditions. I often say that Lands’ End is a “technology company” that just happens to be a retailer.
Traditional business begins with a good business plan, including budgets, sales forecasts and manufacturing schedules. All of this appears in a logical continuum from left to right. Operating a business in real time is different logically and chronologically. It requires the acuity to sense changes in our environment. Let’s use transportation as an example.
Traditional businesses operate like a bus with routes to follow and schedules to meet. Real- time businesses operate like a taxi responding quickly to calls on phones and two-way radios. Businesses must adopt real-time principals as they face global competition for labor and supplies, increased speed of technology, and changing market conditions. If your business does not adapt someone else will. Here are some recommendations that Wisconsin business and entrepreneurs can follow.
Dynamics of a real time thinking
Invent…don’t copyLook for big problems with big markets. Creativity and innovation are necessary for success. Look around. Don’t do what others are doing – look for breakthroughs.
A good idea is better than waiting to get all the facts. Remember that execution is the most important element of success. We don’t have the time to research all the facts. Go with your gut. Sometimes fire, aim, ready, is more effective then ready, aim, fire! Business planning is a sound concept but it needs to be flexible, agile and responsive.
Plan to make mistakes. Correct them quickly. Mistakes can end up opening new opportunities. Researchers at 3M did not set out to create Post-It Notes. They were by-product of researching for new adhesives.
Attract and retain talent. Be loose and open. Diversity fosters creativity. Don’t be incestuous. Look beyond your industry and science and search out creative, talented, innovative thinkers.
Speed and adaptability are keys to success. Advantage comes from seeing first and acting fast.
Develop and encourage innovative thinking. Don’t depend on educators and researchers to determine how we think about innovation. Many educators resist change and many do not. We need to be open and encourage people to be innovative to maintain competitive advantage in a global economy.
Real-time innovation is about more than 24-hour switchboards, web-portals and branding. Decisions that used to be made internally, are now made with, and influenced by outsiders. Information and knowledge must be shared in ways we’ve never done before.
Create real-time interactions with customers.
Working in real-time is all about being open to change. It’s about being inclusive and accessible for everyone, not just a few. It’s about adaptability and not conformity or consensus building. Hopefully, Wisconsin is now ready to embrace the huge benefits of implementing a real-time economy. Let’s due it sooner rather than later! Thanks for listening