VUCA World Part 4: Pillar 1 of the Light Footprint Approach

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In last week’s article, VUCA World Part 3: Hiring Critical Thinkers, we touched upon the need to hire workers who focus more on how to think, rather than what to think. These individuals are necessary to usher organizations into the new era of business, the era of VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity). Consulting firm Roland Berger took a hard look at how 50 different companies, from varying industries, have adapted to this new environment. As a result, they developed The Light Footprint Approach to show the key similarities in the organizations that have succeeded. They describe the standouts as “meta-winners – firms so singular that they are game-changers in their industry.”

With the Light Footprint Approach being the new measure for success, Roland Berger then created a Maturity Matrix in order to analyze organizations and find out how far developed they are into the principles of this approach. Three areas, Innovation, Organization and Approach, are divided into Seven Pillars. These Seven Pillars are the characteristics found in top performing corporations in the VUCA world. We will discuss the two pillars that make up the first area, Innovation, here:

Principles of The Light Footprint Approach – Innovation

Technophilia: “Meta-winners are technophiles, constantly innovating and integrating external technological innovation into their business models. An example of technophile thinking is the connected vehicle – the integration of the Internet, e-mail, iPhone connections and such like into cars, with the ultimate aim of creating a fully automated vehicle. GE, Google, BMW, Audi and Toyota are all developing aspects of the connected vehicle that are set to revolutionize the industry, bringing substantial benefits in terms of safety, energy efficiency and traffic management.”

“What will technophilia look like in the medium term? One key trend we identified is service robotics: Robots at the service of humans or industrial equipment, customized for often complex tasks and with a degree of autonomy that goes far beyond mere industrial automation. Service robots were first used in military applications and field robotics; they are now increasingly common in areas such as medical surgery, domestic tasks and entertainment. No one country has yet emerged as the clear leader, but the United States, South Korea, Japan and Germany are all at the forefront. In the medium term, players that make the most of this technology will gain a substantial advantage over their competitors.”

Cybernomics: “The second principle of the Light Footprint approach is what we call “cybernomics” – the ability to leverage new technology, in particular Web 2.0, big data-mining capacities and digitization. The US military calls cyberspace the fifth domain, after the air, land, sea and space. Meta-winners are companies that are able to win a decisive advantage in this fifth domain. Through cybernomics they achieve maneuverability and keep their organization lean, with their modular structures ensuring agility.”

“A striking example of a meta-winner using cybernomics is the US provider of on-demand Internet streaming content Netflix. Netflix recently leveraged its knowledge of customers to support expansion into a new business segment: the production of content.”

Following the pillars of The Light Footprint Approach may aid your organization in emulating successful companies in order to survive or they may offer some general guidance to evolve an already successful company. Stayed tuned for next week’s article, in which we will discuss next pillar, Organization.

Traci Kingery, PHR is an HR Professional and freelance writer based in the Midwest, specializing in immigration and talent management. When she’s not improving unemployment, she keeps busy with her husband and four children.

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