SOURCE: A.T. Kearney

A.T. Kearney

June 17, 2009 12:30 ET

New Concept of Business Planning Emphasizes Operating With a Vision of a Discontinuous Future

A.T. Kearney Partner Keynotes Special Session at CIES World Food Business Summit

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - June 17, 2009) - A.T. Kearney partner, Jim Singer, called on business leaders to abandon traditional methods of planning and learn to view the future by identifying discontinuities in a way that mitigates risk and allows companies to move quickly to capitalize on unforeseen shifts in the market.

His remarks were made during a special session of the CIES World Food Business Summit, an annual meeting of senior executives from major retailers and consumer packaged goods executives from across the globe, taking place at the Waldorf Astoria.

By definition, a discontinuity is an unpredicted break from the established pattern. Discontinuities are events, products, individuals or market developments characterized by the game-changing impact on companies, industries and even nations. Discontinuities come in a variety of shapes and styles, but they have one thing in common -- fortunes are made and lost in their wake.

The approach outlined by Singer provides a framework for readying a business for potential sources of discontinuity, understanding their impact, and finding opportunities for competitive advantage. By mapping the discontinuity field, companies can begin to understand how to identify and manage for obstacles and competitors by better anticipating the direction and impact of change.

Singer provided several examples of individuals that operated with discontinuous visions that completely changed the landscape of major industries:

--  Amadeo Giannini, proprietor of a tiny San Francisco bank, who bucked
    conventional wisdom to provide immediate street side loans to local
    citizens devastated by the 1906 earthquake, growing his business into Bank
    of America.
--  Percy Johnson -- an engineer during World War II at Raytheon
    Corporation, who noticed a curious side effect of newly-developed radar
    technology that led to the microwave oven.
--  Marcel Bich -- an Italian immigrant to France, set up a business in a
    leaky shed after World War II and revolutionized the writing implement,
    cigarette lighter and shaving industries (Bic) over established giants like
    Waterman, Ronson and Zippo.

Singer concluded his presentation with the statement, "With a commitment to a discontinuous vision, we can move from thinking that constrains, to thinking that liberates."

About A.T. Kearney

A.T. Kearney is a global management consulting firm that uses strategic insight, tailored solutions and a collaborative working style to help clients achieve sustainable results. Since 1926, we have been trusted advisors on CEO-agenda issues to the world's leading corporations across all major industries. A.T. Kearney's offices are located in major business centers in 36 countries. For more information, please visit

About CIES

CIES - The Food Business Forum is the only independent global food business network. It brings together the CEOs and senior management of around 400 retailer and manufacturer members of all sizes, across 150 countries. CIES has been growing with the food business for over 55 years. It provides a real global platform for thought leadership, debate and networking between retailers and their partners. Its strength lies in the privileged access it offers to the key players in the sector and the sharing of best practice at the highest level. It has a mandate from its members to develop common positions on key strategic and practical issues affecting the food business. For more information, please visit

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