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B School
 
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THUNDERBIRD SCHOOL OF GLOBAL MANAGEMENT
What multinational firms need to do to succeed in the 21st century
Giving importance to strategic intelligence and the need to sense disruptive innovation in the external environment is extremely critical for companies today. People should be tasked with scouting such intelligence (they are called Bridgers), which can be built into performance metrics and reviews in a meaningful way
Issue Date - 15/03/2012
 
The value of having people skilled in these activities and whose firms encourage them to do it on a regular basis is phenomenal! Some of the latest innovations by firms such as Intel, GE, ConocoPhillips and Briggs & Stratton began with a Bridger in the local market skillfully doing this kind of work. While some people are more naturally suited for Bridger work, it is clear that these things can and should be trained up and assessed by the firm.

Some of the world’s best companies teach us a lot about how to successfully implement the ‘Bridger Strategy’. The first thing the firm must do is ensure the right people are tapped for the right function. Below is a guide to some of the first steps to begin integrating the Bridger Strategy into a firm:
Start a discussion about roles: bridgers, advocates & translators;
Align performance review systems;
Send the right people to the fringe. Specific assessment tools are critical in identifying the right people, which help to highlight:
Can he/she build trusting relationships?
Does he/she have a deep understanding of the business model and important industry trends?
Can he/she design quick, inexpensive experiments to test/validate ideas?
Can he/she operate in unfamiliar environments?
Can he/she sell his/her ideas effectively?


It is best to find people who possess many of these skills already. Where needed, targeted training can greatly increase the effectiveness of their efforts.

Invest in Bridger insights – Speed matters and the way ideas are funded matters. The longer it takes for ideas to be implemented the less likely they are to succeed, and the more likely an idea won’t be shared in the future. Also, firms can’t expect competing interests to give up some of their budget to fund ideas that might impact their own jobs. Resources need to be allocated separate from existing operating budgets. Knowing the best ideas will be funded increases both the value of the strategic intelligence gathered and the likelihood the idea will not be rejected by business units.
 

Deepanshu Taumar           

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