"The Owner's Manual for the 21st Century Organization" argues that only responsive organizations will survive in an age of uncertainty. Responsive OS pertains to organizations facing shifts in technology, society, and culture, and empowers them to adapt and respond to change as it happens. There is an overwhelming body of evidence supporting the effectiveness of this model, especially in technology companies. However, there is still work be done in understanding the network constraints of companies selling physical products in a digital world. By way of example: If only the responsive will survive, FMCG companies - as they exist right now - are destined to fail.
While Rule 7: Serve Networks, will undoubtedly improve the agility of FMCGs, they are still constrained by their reliance upon external partners who prioritise structure and reliability over responsiveness. FMCGs traditionally focus the lion's share of their efforts on selling - however, significant cost efficiencies could be achieved through supply chain efficiency, which requires partner collaboration. In modern business, the success of organizations is inherently linked to their ability to adapt; yet FMCGs are dependent on the size, speed and cooperation of their partners for survival. Thus, a complete transformation of organizational responsiveness and organizational networks is necessary in order for FMCGs to realise true transformation and thrive in the modern landscape.
Similarly, Rule 4: Process Information, is crucial to the responsive organization, but it is not enough. Reams of data are collected by brands and retailers and analyzed independently of one another, despite the fact that the sharing of information between suppliers and partners is critical for survival. Unfortunately, retailer dominance and power imbalances continue to restrict a free flow of information between partners. Without true transparency between retailers and suppliers, FMCGs risk operating at the mercy of retailers, or worse, becoming irrelevant to customers.
Immense growth can be realised when FMCGs lessen their reliance upon external networks and partners lower their reluctance to share knowledge with suppliers. Responsive OS takes significant steps towards moving railroad era companies into information age companies, but applying this model to physical consumer goods companies will require a broader view of transformation: from transforming an organization to transforming a network.
Organizations in the consumer goods business have to become part of people's lives, not just their shopping basket.