In 2009 the research team at the Deloitte Center for the Edge, led by John Hagel III, introduced a concept they titled ‘The Big Shift”. Their research showed that competition was changing rapidly on a global basis and the current way of doing business was fundamentally broken. They showed that return on assets (ROA) for public companies had declined by 75% since 19651. They stated that The Big Shift “represents the convergence of long-term trends, playing out over decades, that are fundamentally reshaping the business landscape.” A major trend that is reshaping the competitive landscape is around two powerful changes in the business world; digital infrastructure and knowledge flows.
The digital infrastructure is an interesting, well-known phenomena and I may cover this in a future blog post. The more fundamental and critical shift is the change in knowledge flows. Companies that can acquire information, interpret it, and take action faster than the competition may have significant competitive advantages. In the new paradigm knowledge is an asset that should be nurtured, managed, and protected just like inventory, distribution networks, or cash.
What does this really mean from a tactical standpoint? There is interesting research that breaks down information processing in a business context in a very meaningful way and provides a hierarchy of information management that can enhance knowledge creation and management in their organizations (Sinkula, James M, 1994)2.
The research breaks down the information processing to four key stages:
Information Acquisition – how and where does the organization get the necessary information;
Information Distribution – sharing information appropriately and in a timely way to facilitate action;
Information Interpretation (and resultant actions) – reviewing the information, drawing appropriate conclusions, and acting on the conclusions;
Organizational Memory – storing the information and the processes around the acquisition, distribution, and interpretation to enable consistent refreshing over time.
These four steps are inter-connected and absolutely critical in driving time-sensitive decisions that are fact-based, effective, and optimized for success.
If you subscribe to the Deloitte theory that Knowledge Flow is an asset to an organization then becoming world class at the first three stages is critical for competitive success. The Organizational Memory component is critical for long-term value creation.
Each of these four stages are worthy of their own overviews and over the next few weeks I will be posting more about each of these areas. I’d be interested in any questions or feedback on the above.
- Hagel, J., Seely Brown, J., and Davidson, Shaping Strategy in a World of Constant Disruption, Harvard Business Review, Oct. 2008.
- Sinkula, J. M., Market Information Processing and Organizational Learning, Journal of Marketing, Vol. 58, January 1994, p 35-45