image source: Kenneth Scudder
When Autodesk conducted a getAbstract pilot, I was able to "read" a bunch of management books in a short amount of time. The getAbstract process provides 5 page summaries of well-known books including those that provide management advice. Hence I have some familiarity with Plan B: How to Hatch a Second Plan That's Always Better Than Your First by David Kord Murray.
The getAbstract summary makes it really easy. The key take-aways from the book are clearly spelled out:
- Outmoded business methods often are at the heart of corporate failures.
- Companies need to be able to adopt new methods quickly. They need a "Plan B."
- Companies should create their "Plan A" so they can evolve to a "Plan B" as circumstances shift.
- Companies with successful Plan B's practice adaptive management: the ability to adjust their business plan as the world around them changes.
- Business people who apply adaptive management build on a set of strategic principles to make smart, canny judgments.
- They define problems and solutions, and then work with a variety of goals, metrics, and scenarios based on careful planning, strategic debate, and willingness to change.
- They implement these strategies by using tactics and resources that work together.
- Adaptive management principles support the use of nine active processes:
- Scenario planning based on multiple predictions of the future
- Tactical inventory based on a regular assessment of what's in a company's arsenal
- Learning by reviewing last year's plans and results to determine what worked and what did not
- Defining problems carefully so that effective methods for addressing challenges flow naturally from these descriptions
- Strategic alignment to ensure that strategy and tactics are in sync
- Strategic planning by sitting down and writing down actual plans
- Tactical optimization by measuring and evaluating progress using metrics
- Alterations by making changes to strategy or tactics based on the metrics
- Debate based on honest discussion about what teams can or should change or adapt
- Leaders who have practiced adaptive management include: Dwight Eisenhower (D-Day), Sam Walton (Walmart), Steve Jobs (Apple), and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook).
I chose to highlight this book in today's blog post because Autodesk is in a long process of moving our applications to the cloud. This won't happen all at once, but we are working on it. In terms of the Plan B book, my personal take-aways include:
- Autodesk built a successful business by: recognizing the shift from high-priced workstations to lower cost personal computers, engaging a strong dealer/reseller network, and allowing core functionality to be extended via robust APIs.
- Years later Autodesk recognized the shift from DOS and various flavors of Unix to Microsoft Windows and concentrated its resources appropriately at the time.
- Autodesk now sees an evolving shift from the desktop to mobile and tablet devices. In addition there is a shift from ownership to access where customers pay only for what they use. Design projects are getting so sophisticated and complex, that the resulting data size is making copying/sending files around prohibitive. The data should reside in one place as a single source of truth. Autodesk is planning accordingly.
We continue to offer desktop applications bundled in suites; however, as a Plan B exercise we have to be prepared for the eventual shift to a cloud/mobile/social world with our solutions. As outmoded business methods often are at the heart of corporate failures, to do otherwise would be at our own peril.
Alternatives are alive in the lab.