In her book The End of Competitive Advantage: How to Keep Your Strategy Moving as Fast as Your Business; Rita McGrath - professor of strategy at the Columbia Business School - offers a list of early warning signs that a company is losing its competitive advantage and without significant internal cultural and mindset change faces a tough future.
The more of these points you can honestly say 'Yes' to - the worse things already are:
- I don’t buy my own company’s products or services.
- We are investing at the same levels or even more and not getting the expected margins or growth in return.
- Customers are finding cheaper or simpler solutions that are “good enough.”
- Competition is emerging from places we didn’t expect.
- Customers are no longer excited about what we have to offer.
- We are not considered a top place to work by the people we would like to hire.
- Some of our very best people are leaving.
- Our stock is perpetually undervalued.
- Our technical people (scientists and engineers, for instance) are predicting that a new technology will change our business.
- We are not being targeted by headhunters for talent.
- The growth trajectory has slowed or reversed.
- Very few innovations have made it successfully to market in the last two years.
- The company is 'restructuring' - cutting back on benefits or pushing more risk to employees.
- Management is denying the importance of potential bad news.
If you find yourself nodding your head to more than half of these statements then you either need to seriously thing about personally finding opportunity elsewhere, or you need to push for some significant change to take place.
Organisations very seldom collapse overnight, it's far more likely that decay takes place over time and tell-tale red flags begin to pop up with increasing regularity.
Don't let yourself be the victim of surprise, scan your immediate environment for signals of what is possibly on the horizon.