In this short video David Trafford and Peter Boggis introduce the core idea behind their book Beyond Default: which is that all organisations have a default future. This is the place they will end up if they take no action other than that currently planned. This applies all organisations, whether they are large corporations, family businesses, not-for-profit enterprises, countries or even societies. An organisation’s default future is a result of the past choices and actions of its leaders, and the context within which it operates. If an organisation’s default future is considered unacceptable by its leaders then it’s their role and accountability to confront this future, and take action to put their organisation on a trajectory to an improved future.
One example given is that of Blockbuster, the once very successful video rental business established in the mid-1980s. At its peak in 2004 Blockbuster employed more than 60,000 people in some 9,000 stores worldwide. However in the early 1990s the context within which it operated significantly changed with the advent of broadband, which allowed movies to be streamed directly into people’s homes. As a result Blockbuster’s default future changed dramatically for the worse and in 2013 it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. It closed its final stores soon after.
Unfortunately corporate history is littered with examples of organisations that failed to successfully confront their default future. Examples include General Foods (1990), Pan American World Airways (1991), Arthur Andersen (2002), Rover (2005), Marconi Corporation (2006), Lehman Brothers (2008), Woolworth Group (2009), Borders Group book stores (2011), British Home Stores (2016) and Carillion plc (2018).
Watch David and Peter’s video.
Watch the next video in the series, where David and Peter talk about the purpose of strategy.