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Peripheral Vision: Detecting the Weak Signals That Will Make or Break Your Company Hardcover – May 1, 2006
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Traditional methods of prediction are limited usually large margins of error. The more complex the system, the faster the changes, the longer perspective the analysis the greater the risk of incorrect conclusions.
Proposed by Day and Schoemaker solution is located somewhere between forecasting and foresight, drawing one and the other. Pherpieral vision is both the system and the way of thinking. The entire process consists of five interlocking, highly iterative stages: Scoping, Scanning, Interpreting (the problem is not lack of information, but their effective pre-selection, selection and interpretation of information), Probing, Feedback (including adjusting).
The impression that I got after reading this book is contained in one word: "honesty". The authors presented the problem honestly and fairly interpret its solution. No unnecessary fireworks and excessive optimism. An additional point for authors for posting on the end of the book of information about publications expansion and deepening of topics pherpipheral vision.
Although the book is addressed primarily to business practitioners, theorists of forecasts and foresight will not be disappointed.
Good step by step approach to scanning the noise and how to act on it. I will not steal the punchlines from the book.
Worth reading. Similar to Jim Harris's "Blindsided" book.
That is exactly what this book provides. The book is easy to read and structured well, essentially taking the reader through a clear 7 step process on how to anticipate and respond to changes. The Appendix at the end that details the "Strategic Eye Exam" serves as a useful starting questionnaire.
The book will be a very good read for those who believe that the world around them changes quickly and want to develop a BU or company wide process to learn, evaluate and act on those changes, including the ability to discard the red herrings.
Despite the exhortation to pay attention, most organizations miss more than they notice. In Peripheral Vision, Professor George S. Day and former professor, Paul J. H. Schoemaker, do a fine job of explaining why it's hard to separate out the meaningful information from the noise . . . and to take timely action.
I found their metaphor of vision to be an inspired one. They found parallels in the ways that our minds use vision for all of the myopia that occurs in tracking the external environment.
Much strategic thought suggests that best results come from concentrating results. That's true. But concentrate on what? If you focus too narrowly, you may miss something important (as occurs when people view a film of students passing a basketball to count the passes . . . and usually miss an actor walking through the scene wearing a gorilla suit).
The explanation the authors provide is that while the doing part of the organization is very focused on key points of leverage, there's also a need to keep the peripheral vision open to new or unexplained influences that may be threats or opportunities. This part will seem familiar to those who have listed opportunities and threats on many chart packs as part of strategic planning exercises.
What's different in this book is that the authors spell out a process for engaging peripheral vision and acting on it in a timely way. This is not a process that's been honed into a best practice, but rather is a hypothesis to guide those who want to improve. But the hypothesis is filled with plenty of valuable tools like scenario testing, role playing, organizing a flow of impressions, low-cost experiments and establishing a process that is maintained through top-management attention.
Here are the six lessons (paraphrased into my terms) that the authors feel are most important:
1. The point is to be alert rather than to be a better forecaster.
2. Pay more attention to what questions are asked than to the data you generate.
3. Move out into unexplored territory to become familiar with what you don't know.
4. Test your interpretations in several ways.
5. Try things out before you make big commitments. You'll often be wrong in your initial interpretation (as many people were in jumping on the short-lived, low-carb count trend rather than producing foods that diabetics could eat -- a long-term opportunity)
6. Leaders should direct the activity in an active way. Otherwise, the vision becomes blurred and misdirected.
The book has some nice resources in it like the Strategic Eye Exam in Appendix A that can tell you how effective your organization's peripheral vision is. Appendix B is very helpful for those who want to understand the underlying research basis for the authors' conclusions.
I also enjoyed the case histories that preceded the discussion of each of the process's seven steps: Scoping; scanning; interpreting; probing; acting; organizing; and leading.
What are the book's limitations?
I found that there were two:
First, I looked in vain for a description of the excellent process that Procter & Gamble uses to develop new products based on observations made by stakeholders around the world. The whole book could have been organized around that example. Larry Huston of P&G who leads this process is quoted twice in the book so missing this information is surprising.
Second, the authors don't take the notion of continuing business model innovation seriously enough. They presume that some organizations can skate along without making business model innovation the organization's primary focus. I think that's wrong. In fact, the Strategic Eye Exam in Appendix A may actually lull some organizations into a false sense of complacency, a stall that will hinder their full development.
As a result, this book needs a sequel which is focused around the organization that wants to upgrade its business models every 18-24 months. The telling point here is that the authors seem to have misread the Barbie-Bratz example they use. The vulnerability that Bratz exploited had probably been around for decades. The Mattel leadership has usually focused on being adaptive with Barbie. Bratz can probably use continuing business model innovation to essential eliminate the Barbie franchise over time if Mattel continues to act like an adaptive enterprise.
So read this book, but apply its lessons in support of continuing business model innovation . . . rather than to become an adaptive enterprise.
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By George Day & Paul Schoemaker
`Peripheral Vision' has quite a catchy title.Read more