M. Dana Baldwin, Senior Consultant
Do you listen to your customers, to your competition, to your environment? What influences your decisions about where to take your company in the future? Will continuing to do what you have always done work in the future, or will it doom you to a slow spiral into oblivion?
Sometimes companies get dragged, kicking and screaming, into the future. Other times, companies have enough foresight to be aware of the changes in customer needs and preferences, the changing economic environment and the changing social environment to be ahead of the curve. They start changing before much of the rest of the world is even aware that change is needed and coming.
Tesla is a leader with foresight in the automotive market. They have worked hard to develop a totally new concept in motor vehicles. New batteries, no carbon-fueled engines, new manufacturing processes and capabilities have been experimented with, modified, changed and re-adapted to reach their desired course and direction. Are they there yet? No, but they are well on their way.
Compare that with the changes at General Motors. GM was, in effect, forced to re-evaluate what its products offered the market place versus what the market place was beginning to demand. They have responded, but the process has been difficult, as they have had to change the emphasis from their historical path to the new, more challenging path of higher efficiency electric and hybrid vehicles, etc. The Volt was a valiant first step, but it was not an economic success, at least, to date.
Ten years ago, PepsiCo took a hard look at the direction that nutrition and snack foods were going. They decided to make a company-wide change in direction to offer more healthful foods and snacks. They have decreased sugar content in many foods and drinks. They have reduced fat content significantly where possible. Recently, they announced that in 2015 their traditional Pepsi Cola branded soft drink volume was 12% of their sales, while their nutrition brands, low calorie beverages and healthier snacks were about 45% of sales.
Now, they have announced a further extension of their change efforts. They are aiming to be more cognizant of the environmental impact of their businesses across the globe. They will be working to reduce many different types of waste and effluent, with the end goal of becoming more sustainable and being a better corporate citizen in the many countries where they exist.
All this ties back to listening to your customers’ needs and preferences, watching what your competition is doing, and heeding the impact of your company on the environment in which you work. The nice thing about what PepsiCo is doing is that they are accomplishing this while generating a good return on investment for their shareholders. Best of both worlds.
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M. Dana Baldwin is a Senior Consultant with Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc. He can be reached by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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