Incumbent automakers worldwide are facing countless disruptions. The global supply chain is broken, markets get more and more disconnected, pushing for increased (and costly) regionalization, electric engines seem to become the new norm despite slow-walking there for so many years, etc.
An exercise that we often do with key executives that need to reboot their innovation mindset is to play a game. We call it the Nemesis game.
The game plays as follows:
You've all been fired under a ludicrous pretense, without bonuses and satisfactory compensations, and you're admittedly angry. But, for some reason, HR forgot to make you sign a non-compete agreement. So you decide to work for a new-fangled competitor flush with VC money. They don't have a strong market foothold yet, but you're now in charge of propelling them forward. What would be the top five ideas to disrupt your old company the hell out of its market?
When running such session with automakers, there's always four ideas out of five that are more or less the same:
- Go direct to consumer (make sure that customers can configure and order online, follow-up on delivery and aftersales with concierge services, ...)
- Work 360° on customer needs (prepare financing and insurance solutions obviously, but also trade-in when upgrading for new models, mobility needs when abroad, ...)
- Includes energy delivery as a core mission (establish a reputable distribution network, collaborate when needed, be interoperable, remove miles anxiety as top priority, ...)
- Build leadership on both hardware and software (invest in mobility as a platform, design a full-on driver experience – not as an afterthought or a cute marketing layer, ...)
It's so much of the same that after a few years doing that, we sometimes even skip this part entirely and work from these conclusions as premises. It speaks volume about a necessary strategic sameness of most incumbent automakers that are facing the same critical problems at the same time.
The fifth and last idea though? It's a wild card. And I won't spoil the kind of answers we get because they are way more surprising and particularly rich in the context of the different brands we work with.
But this is not only a story for automakers. If you're not but are working in an incumbent industry and you'd had to rebuild your business from scratch and with enough resources, what would be your ways to top five priorities to disrupt your own market as fast as possible?