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  • Thomas Thurston

AI is helping innovators to see and escape the invisible maze

Updated: May 13

It's harder to find the cheese if you can't see the maze.

Companies can often feel like they have limitless strategies to choose from, especially when it comes to innovation and growth. It's as if they can turn any direction at any juncture. However, AI is revealing that companies and the strategic choices available to them are systematically governed by hidden structures.

Sure, executives may feel as if they're choosing freely from a limitless menu of strategy options, but in reality their choices are largely fixed and predetermined by a labyrinth of often imperceptible profit motives, business model constraints, organizational inertia and any number of other factors managers may only be vaguely aware of.

AI is now granting leaders unprecedented vision into the intricate structures that govern their strategies, successes and preventable failures. Yes, there are a vast number of subtle factors that frame and constrain a business's choices. The number of dynamic variables is large, but it isn't infinite - at least not when it comes to the variables that account for the bulk of the variance in outcomes.

As a result, AI models of markets are now mapping and modeling the structural dynamics of competitive landscapes and market ecosystems. This is helping executives to articulate, quantify, and understand their choices so as to better navigate structural constraints. It's helping companies better predict which growth efforts and innovations will succeed or fail. It's preventing dead ends and even introducing new pathways.

With the help of AI, businesses can now identify with sobering clarity what Professor Clayton Christensen termed the "forces that cause great firms to stumble" – subtle market currents that executives historically dismissed or overlooked, leading to disruptive growth or demise.

It's a competitive arms race as AI helps some companies pursue novel opportunities that oblivious competitors can't even see. While market laggards fruitlessly repeat failure patterns and endure predictable losses, AI-empowered leaders are now - for the first time in history - transcending these constraints with science fiction-like precision.

By liberating corporate strategy from the opacity of unseen mazes, an unprecedented wave of innovation is becoming unleashed. Those with emerging AI-guided vision can deftly navigate – or even escape – the invisible labyrinths constraining their predecessors.

It's a lot easier to find the cheese if you can see the maze.


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