Ways to make businesses 'future-ready'

The lines between industries, markets and professions are constantly becoming blurred and redefined.

If traditional businesses do not constantly adapt and change, they may end up being acquired, such as in the case of the South China Morning Post or, worse, go out of business ("SCMP sale a sign of the times" and "Buy or be bought"; both published on Dec 23).

The executives running such companies should go from being "I-Shaped" to being "T-Shaped" ("From adding to creating value: The next frontier"; Dec 23).

That means they cannot just be specialists in their chosen field of expertise, but must also develop themselves in a holistic way.

They need to have the capacity to adopt a global mindset and the ability to acquire a wide range of knowledge and expertise.

They have to also adopt not just a "historian" but also a "futurist" mindset.

Past success may cause a fear of change. It tends to drive executives to hold on to the status quo and attempt to perpetuate the temporary and transient value of past achievements.

Executives need to focus on future markets and opportunities, and help their companies make the necessary changes to capitalise on them.

In addition, executives need to move from being just a "fireman" to setting up a "firewall".

They need to learn how to ensure that anything that can go wrong will never go wrong.

There should be a learning system in place to not only ensure breaches do not happen again but to also strengthen operational resilience.

Executives need to open the "steel vault" of information and operate as "search engines" and as "system integrators" in the knowledge-based economy.

Executives hold a vast array of critical and beneficial information for the company. Very often, this information is held under lock and key and may not be properly organised and analysed.

As a result, they are not being effectively translated into useful tools and resources to help other business units and individuals leverage them for better outcomes, results and impact.

Finally, executives have to shift from being "custodians" to also being "creators" of new realities.

They should be restless souls, always desiring to know the unknown and discover the undiscovered. They should be constantly thinking about how to disrupt current patterns and look for the next breakthrough.

While others are thinking about what is next, they should be thinking about what is coming after what is next. They must look ahead of the curve and around the bend to invest in the future and be future-ready.

They must also recreate themselves rigorously, relentlessly and unrelentingly to stay above and ahead of the crowd.

Patrick Liew Siow Gian (Dr)