Bernard Marr

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Research Fellow, Cranfield School of Management and Visiting Professor of Organisational Performance, University of Basilicata.

Introduction to Section Two: Re-Mind

Today’s business world is different from the business world even a decade or two ago. Currently, companies have to cope with increased complexity created by phenomena such as increasing customer demands, shorter product life cycles, global competition, and tighter integration of the value delivery chain.

The world has moved from a sellers’ to a buyers’ market. Especially after the two World Wars, markets in most of the developed countries were fuelled, demands outstripped supply, and suppliers controlled the market. However, global trade has gradually changed towards a buyers’ market.

Such markets are saturated and do not absorb all goods produced. Customers have improved access to information and knowledge through improved information technology, most notably the internet. In a buyers’ market consumers hold the power, as they have a choice of what products or services to buy, and are better informed and more demanding. In such markets, differentiation and innovation become critical.

The increasing collaboration between firms means that companies’ boundaries are becoming increasingly blurred. Customers are interested in solutions to their problems and value added. Organisations need to understand what these demands are, and what value means in the eyes of their customers as well as other stakeholders.

This shift in business context also means that many traditional cost-focused management tools do not provide managers with adequate or sufficient information. Many tools and approaches still in use in many organisations today were developed for suppliers’ markets. Many of them are in fact quite Tayloristic. According to Frederick Winslow Taylor, it is only a matter of matching people to a task and then supervising, rewarding or punishing them in accordance with their performance. In Taylor’s view, there is no such thing as skill and all work could be analysed step-by-step, as a series of unskilled operations that could then be combined into any kind of job. I believe that in a world where differentiation and innovation are critical drivers of success, we need new tools that help us to navigate in this new climate.

Companies need a clear understanding of their intangible assets and how these help to deliver the value proposition. They need to manage the competencies of the employees, the knowledge flows, the brand image, the relationships with stakeholders, the processes and routines, as well as the organisational culture. These are all components of the organisational resource infrastructure that enables companies to continuously innovate and differentiate.

In this book, the authors address many of today’s management challenges by drawing together their experience gained from many years of working in business. What makes this book credible is that its ideas derive from real implementation success in companies, including the Japanese IT giant Fujitsu. This book will provide managers with a set of new perspectives, which is critical for today’s challenging business environment.