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Massive disruption driven by new technologies, shifting consumer preferences, regulations and competitive moves can rapidly undermine once-successful products.

Rather than going down with a sinking ship, the Enterprise Agility Way of Thinking (EAWT) recommends looking for adjacent markets to reinvent growth. Enterprise Agility has 12 principles for accelerated change, which are contained in Accelerated Change Principle #12 (Chapter 6, page 328, Enterprise Agility Fundamentals).

What Are Adjacent Markets?

Adjacent markets are those next door to your core business. They leverage existing capabilities and strengths but serve different segments or needs. For example, a bank might expand from retail lending into small business lending. A consumer electronics firm could leverage hardware expertise for industrial applications.

Why Expand into Adjacencies During Disruption?

When your core market falters, adjacent spaces provide an opportunity to get help from existing people and reuse current skills and assets in new ways. Some key reasons to consider adjacent market expansion:

The 12th Accelerated Change Principle states that adjacent markets are like a friend when business models are disrupted. Expanding into adjacencies can reignite growth.

How to Identify the Right Adjacencies

Step back and thoroughly understand current customer needs, competitive advantages and capabilities:

Then explore spaces with natural connections to those strengths and target customer segments looking for those attributes. Leverage frameworks like the TriValue Company Model and Future Thinking to evaluate options. Start small by running market tests and pilots to validate opportunities. Build partnerships to reduce risk. Move boldly once confidence is gained.

Key Planning Considerations

Approach adjacencies strategically. Ensure they align to corporate vision and strategy. Analyze impacts on the workforce, resources, and operations. Maintain focus on delivering core business value (TriValue) while expanding.

Build organizational adaptability through workforce mobility, enabled by training and job rotation. Foster a culture of innovation and prudent risk-taking and Shared Progress. Pursue adoptions incrementally, making small bets before major investment. You can also consider using some of the techniques from Future Thinking, such as the Shared Progress Bets (SPBs).

Make decisions balancing customer, company and workforce wellbeing value. Measure success based on long-term and sustainable metrics, not just short-term profit.

In the face of external disruption, leveraging adjacencies proactively is key to sustaining innovation and growth. With the right strategy and commitment, the adjacent market expansion provides a path through uncertainty.

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