Future Proof Yourself
Merging Innovation, Strategy, and Future Vision
Individuals, organizations, and societies face vast implications in today's rapidly evolving world. Instability and shifting paradigms push executives to seek more effective ways to manage value shifts and technological advancements while pragmatically balancing future opportunities with daily strategy execution.
In an article published in HBR online, Alexander Osterwalder proposed the implementation of a Chief Entrepreneur (CE), an executive as influential as the CEO. This executive's role would focus on creating new value options, experimenting with future logic, and developing products and services that ensure continuous Future Value Generation. Osterwalder argues that the CEO and CE have distinct roles within the organization; At the same time, the CEO manages the existing business, leading the company's future.
The article is based on the idea that organizations must be more adaptive and agile in addressing future challenges. In an earlier HBR article from 2015, the authors discuss how the C-suite needs a Chief Entrepreneur to drive growth and create new businesses. They explain that this role is crucial for organizations to stay competitive and maintain a healthy pipeline of new business opportunities. The Chief Entrepreneur would focus on exploring new markets, identifying emerging trends, and building a portfolio of new ventures, thus enabling the organization to stay ahead of the curve.
Osterwalder's article is intriguing, emphasizing the urgency of integrating agility, experimentation, and practical long-term thinking more assertively into organizations. I firmly advocate embracing the future and entrepreneurial thinking more actively. However, based on my experience, a more pragmatic solution would be to combine innovation, strategy, and futuring into a single function. This fusion makes the strategy more agile, provides innovation with funding and focus, and makes the future more practical. This combination generates value while reducing expenses, with the primary objective being to balance present and future value generation. The success of this approach relies on how committed an organization is to exploring new future options and the focus of the innovation process.
Crucially, the newly integrated unit would report directly to the CEO. When crises occur, and budgets become strained, present and future value generation can suffer. In a scenario with multiple power structures, the question arises: who will make the final decision, the CE (Chief Entrepreneur) or the CEO? The outcome remains uncertain, but it's clear that the CEO is financing the CE; in other words, the present always funds the future.
Innovation, futuring, and strategy alone cannot address the emerging needs of our current reality. Integration and the exploration of synergies are essential. The more turbulent our times become, the more prepared and ready to act we must be. Most importantly, we must ensure a continuous process that supports identifying new value patterns and maintaining organizational sustainability over time. This can only be achieved when we act collectively and collaboratively.
The Chief Entrepreneur's role in the organization is to challenge the status quo, foster a culture of experimentation, and take calculated risks. They bring a unique perspective to the executive team, ensuring the organization remains agile and responsive to change. By combining the roles of innovation, strategy, and futuring into one cohesive unit, organizations can create a dynamic and proactive approach to addressing the challenges of an ever-changing world. Implementing this new unit can lead to a more resilient, adaptable, and forward-looking organization capable of seizing opportunities and driving future growth.
Question: What role does Alexander Osterwalder propose in his HBR article, and what is its purpose?
Answer: Osterwalder proposes the role of a Chief Entrepreneur (CE), an executive tasked with creating new value options, experimenting with future logic, and developing products and services for continuous Future Value Generation.
Question: How does the role of a Chief Entrepreneur (CE) differ from that of a CEO?
Answer: While a CEO manages the existing business, the CE's role is to lead the company's future by exploring new markets, identifying emerging trends, and building a portfolio of new ventures.
Question: What is the suggested solution for a more pragmatic approach to organizational adaptability?
Answer: A pragmatic solution involves combining innovation, strategy, and futuring into a single function, making strategy more agile, providing innovation with funding and focus, and making the future more practical.
Question: In times of crisis, how does the relationship between the CEO and CE potentially impact value generation?
Answer: In strained budgets, present and future value generation can suffer in crisis scenarios. The CEO controls the present and funds the future, led by the CE, leading to potential power struggles.
Question: What is the primary responsibility of the Chief Entrepreneur within an organization?
Answer: The Chief Entrepreneur's role is to challenge the status quo, foster a culture of experimentation, take calculated risks, and ensure the organization remains agile and responsive to change.