For a Wise Decision: Think About When to Think and When to Act

I like to play blitz chess. Classical chess gives you ninety minutes to make a certain number of moves, but in blitz each player must complete the entire game with only five minutes of thinking time. If your time runs out, then you lose. Even so, blitz is not just a matter of moving more quickly than your opponent, but of knowing when to stop and think at just the right point in the game.

The three basic revolutions of digitalisation, globalisation and consumer change are increasing competition in all sectors and causing dynamic changes in competitive factors.  The Finnish national economy has already taken some knocks in each of these fields, with the paper industry experiencing the impact of digitalisation, Nokia getting a taste of how unpredictable consumers can be, and the trade sector wrestling with e-commerce. Change is something that every single sector and business is either now facing or has already encountered.

Time and timing have become the most critical competitive factor in business, and when it comes to making decisions we have shifted from classical time controls to a blitz version of the game.

There are three stages to mastering this modern business blitz:

  1. Engage in value-based foresight. Find the core value that you generate: Why have we managed to survive so far? What are our customers essentially buying? Focus on monitoring trends that affect customer needs with respect to your own core value. Kodak would not have folded if they had realised in time that they were in the business of recording memorable moments, and not in the photography business. This brings to mind the idea of a chessboard, the movement of the pieces and one’s own role in the game.

  2. Describe how customer value arises in our operations nowadays. Change and experiment all the time. These are just like the rapid blitz chess moves that keep the customers satisfied.

  3. Seek changes in the value model at the concept level with bold strides, but minimal stakes. Get involved in emergent developments affecting customer needs that bear on your own values. These are the moves that you should spend time considering, because they will keep you in the game as it evolves.

It’s easy to write about change, but hard to bring it about. The (Shakers) programme of Seedi and partners identifies five indicators that reveal the evolutionary potential of an organisation. The first and most challenging of these is the attitude taken towards problems. Organisations with poor potential tend to hush up problems or blame them on others. Good organisations are inspired by problems, and they fix them through R&D of products or services, and by communicating. 

E-mail to find out the last four factors.

You won’t get everyone involved in change right away. It is important to build developer cells that can bring together the right people from various departments on a part-time basis. The building blocks of a balanced developer profile can be viewed online at together with an opportunity to test your own developer profile free of charge.

And then you will be ready to start the chess clock and play to win!