business strategy | January 08, 2013

Business Speaker Roger Martin: Most Companies Don't Prepare for the Future

"In truth every company has a strategy," business speaker Roger Martin explains in a recent article in The Harvard Business Review. However, many company leaders he has spoken to admit to not explicitly planning their future strategies, choosing instead to make decisions in the now rather than thinking about long-term goals. Companies have strategies, he clarifies, they just aren't specifically sitting down and planning them. While many have argued that the operating environment is changing too rapidly to be able to make any forward-thinking plans, Martin says that, "without making an effort to 'do strategy,' though, a company runs the risk of its numerous daily choices having no coherence to them, of being contradictory across divisions and levels, and of amounting to very little of meaning."

While the market may indeed be uncertain, Martin says that it is always uncertain—so using that excuse for not charting a company's course is unacceptable. All of the actions each employee does on a daily basis within an organization are specifically targeted toward a broader corporate strategy. But those decisions could be more beneficial if they were incorporated into a long-term plan. Further, he says that companies that make a point to strategize for the future tend to not become blindsided when a competitor does something unexpected. This is because they have a sound understanding of the direction they are heading and have allowed provisions in their business plan to accommodate unexpected occurrences. And if they are caught off guard by a competitor's actions or a sudden shift in their industry, they are better equipped to assess where they went wrong and re-evaluate how to move forward.

Martin is a leading voice in the business world and held the esteemed position of Dean at The Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto for 14 years (choosing recently to leave his post to pursue other opportunities). He is the author of Fixing The Game and The Opposable Mind and was named as one of the Top Ten Business School Teachers in the World by Business Week. His innovative approach to industry and business are explored in his lectures and popular keynote speeches, where he teaches audiences to strengthen their integrative thinking skills.

Up Next

risk management | January 07, 2013