Autonomous Vehicles and Strategic Choices


This Recent Article is the result of a collaborative effort between TCS and the Clayton Christensen Institute.  The article examines the strategic choices faced by various players in the emerging Mobility Ecosystem – viewed through the lens of the Theory of Disruptive Innovation. It outlines the best course of action for achieving long-term profitability in the ride-hailing market.

As with any future scenario, the variables that must be considered in determining the path of the scenario can be overwhelming – There is Peril in Predicting. However, inaction is not an option. Strategic choices must be explored.

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Preparing for the Future – Part One


I had the pleasure of hosting two sessions recently at the TCS Innovation Forums in London and in New York City. The sessions, which explored the need to prepare for the future, involved thought leaders, futurists, and various leaders across multiple domains. They were structured with several five-minute descriptions of forward-looking themes, and once context was set, a discussion with the broader leadership group was moderated. The sessions focused on education and awareness, rooted in a strong belief that leaders must prepare for and shape our emerging future. Leaders of the early 20th century were experiencing the fascination of a great period of invention, while at the same time the horror of crisis. That crisis, in the form of World War One, the Great Depression, and World War Two, served as a catalyst that mobilized human action. Without it, the democratization of innovation and the most prosperous period in our human history likely never happens – at least not to the extent that it did.

It is my belief that similarities exist between the era of great invention and today. Future historians may look back and deem this emerging era to be the greatest in human history. However, as described in my post on Mapping the Path of Innovation, human action must again be mobilized if we are to shape a future of human flourishing versus suffering. What are the catalysts that mobilize human Action this time? I shared the results of a Poll I Conducted to provide a point of view. This critical need was first positioned in a post that summarized What I Expect in 2019.

To open the sessions, I shared three key themes from my expectation post: Acceleration, Possibilities, and Convergence. If we truly are entering another period of great invention, what action is required by leaders to ensure a positive path forward? This post will summarize the key themes from the TCS London Session, positioning the importance of answering that question. I will follow this with a summary of the New York session.

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Systems Thinking: The Key to Thriving in a Complex Future


Our future is very complex. The sheer number of building blocks complicates not just our ability to see the future, but any chance we have to navigate it. As these building blocks combine in ever increasing ways, the challenges multiply. Leaders of tomorrow will move towards systemic leadership, having an ability to connect dots. Innovation will move from a myopic view of offerings to systems innovation.

To accomplish this, systems thinking must be embraced by leaders. Systems thinking is a holistic approach to analysis that focuses on the way that a system’s constituent parts interrelate and how systems work over time and within the context of larger systems. As leaders, we struggle with this holistic approach, choosing instead to focus on short term versus long term, and delivering immediate results versus positioning for the future. This focus is in direct conflict with where our complex future is taking us.

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Ecosystem Models are Key to Future Strategies


Our structures and institutions are increasingly challenged by rapid innovation in science and technology. As  Klaus Schwab stated in his book Shaping the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we face the task of understanding and governing 21st-century technologies with a 20th-century mindset and 19th-century institutions. One such institution is our vertically-oriented industry structure. We are in the early stages of An Ecosystem Evolution, where the boundaries between industries are completely blurred. The creation and capture of value is increasingly horizontal in nature, ultimately giving Rise to a Finite Set of Ecosystems.

As this shift occurs, our strategies are iterative in nature and guided by a constantly evolving view of emerging ecosystems. At the heart of this work lies Ecosystem Models. These models provide a range of possibilities inherent in emerging ecosystems, and  identify three critical facets:

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The Emerging Mobility Ecosystem


In segment four of my interview with Chunka Mui, we discussed the ultimate demise of our industry construct and the emergence of horizontal ecosystems that remove friction from our life experiences – one experience at a time. This platform-enabled transition can be witnessed in action today, as we watch the Mobility ecosystem form one piece at a time. We can no longer think of industries in isolation, as we witness the collision of various industries and a reconfiguration of the money flow – over $2.5 Trillion in car-related economic value. Chunka uses the example of the collision between the automotive and technology ecosystems to describe  this phenomenon: the shift from cars with computers inside, to computers with wheels on them.

Chunka Mui is the managing director of the Devil’s Advocate Group, a consulting team that helps organizations design and stress test their innovation strategies. Mr. Mui published a popular book titled The New Killer Apps.

Segment four is a quick three minute video.

You can view segment one – Autonomous Vehicles: An Interview with Chunka Mui – here.

You can view segment two – Reimagining Our Driverless Future – here.

You can view segment three – The Ripple Effect – here.

Download A PDF Version of the transcript.

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Reimagining Our Driverless Future


In segment two of my interview with Chunka Mui, we picked up our conversation with the driverless car scenario. Chunka Mui is the managing director of the Devil’s Advocate Group, a consulting team that helps organizations design and stress test their innovation strategies. Mr. Mui published a popular book titled The New Killer Apps.

Key points of discussion were:

  • If we eliminate auto fatalities, what happens to the need for auto insurance?
  • How to think about the timing of the autonomous vehicle scenario
  • The arms race towards the automotive ecosystem
  • Eliminating 90% of human accidents is plausible
  • Critical mass not needed to feel the impact of this scenario
  • From predicting to rehearsing – a portfolio of options
  • Understanding milestones, markers, obstacles and accelerants
  • Understanding extreme scenarios
  • Understanding the path of science and technology

Here is a six minute animated version of our segment two discussion that picks up where segment one left off:

You can view segment one here.

Download A PDF Version of the Transcript

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Autonomous Vehicles: An Interview with Chunka Mui


The convergence that is steering our emerging future manifests itself through a number of scenarios that drive multiple paradigm shifts. As the shifts themselves converge, they intensify the critical need for leaders to think differently about a world where the future arrives faster than people think. Some time ago, I had a great conversation with Chunka Mui regarding pace, the sheer number of shifts, and the need to think differently. We used the autonomous vehicle to explore the challenges of our emerging future. I will present the full discussion in five short segments, along with white board animation to visualize our dialog.

Chunka Mui is the managing director of the Devil’s Advocate Group, a consulting team that helps organizations design and stress test their innovation strategies. As a consultant on strategy and innovation, Mr. Mui has spent considerable time analyzing the autonomous vehicle scenario. He asked a question in his book The New Killer Apps about autonomous vehicles and what happens if traffic accidents are reduced by 90% as Google predicts. This simple question makes visible the broad and deep implications of these future scenarios. As society responds to their implications, new ecosystems emerge that alter our world. In this case, the vehicle is one of numerous components of an emerging mobility ecosystem that is defined by the responses that are playing out right now.

Here is the first of the five segments:

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