Wharton Professor Tells Companies to Remain Resilient, Agile
Industry representatives heard some straight-forward advice from Dr. Kathy Pearson of The Wharton School during a Tuesday afternoon educational session. Dr. Pearson enthusiastically explained how companies today need to think differently than in the past because “we are living in unprecedented territories” and decision making requires a careful identification and analysis of all the uncertainties out there.
“You need critical thinking and peripheral vision,” she told the crowded room. Although Dr. Pearson favors mathematical models and analysis, she urged attendees to rely on cognitive ability. “You need to look at why the biggest companies have failed. What did they miss? Organizations that are on top of their game,” she said, “are the most vulnerable during change.”
Photo Caption: Dr. Kathy Pearson of The Wharton School gave attendees a great reason to stay alert during a session on critical thinking following lunch.
Dr. Pearson pointed to Mattel’s Barbie brand as a prime example. Bratz dolls are now the market share leader, symbolizing children’s desires to be more like teenagers rather than their mothers. This was a key consumer change that Mattel missed – an example of a “gorilla” that was not noticed. Dr. Pearson encouraged companies to look out for the “gorillas” that could affect their business. This requires thinking outside of the box.
“You need to uncover the uncertainties and also know what your core competencies are – the things you need no matter what happens,” she noted. She identified these as key success factors for companies managing in today’s unusual environment:
• Well capitalized
• Strong technology
• Strategic radar