Learn to love chaos, to thrive on that heart-in-the-throat feeling you get just before you fall, and you're on the road to the virtually integrated enterprise (VIE) model that Gartner Group says will be the hallmark of the successful e-business.
The VIE will banish the command-and-control, hierarchical corporate model in favor of SWAT teams, Michael A Bell, research director at the consultancy, told a Symposium/ITxpo '99 audience.
Such a flattened hierarchy is crucial in gaining the speed and agility that brick-and-mortar companies need to stay ahead in the e-business world of global competition, he said.
Where once "the big would swallow the small, now the fast eat the slow," Bell said.
The new "click-and-brick" companies will leap into the global marketplace and sign up global suppliers and strike alliances worldwide, he said.
Making this model work will depend on making the most of the killer application of the virtual enterprise - knowledge management. And that will bring an increased dependence on retaining staff, including information technology professionals, and taking advantage of what they know, Bell said.
"Break them up into teams of four or five people," he advised. "Give them each $US5,000 and tell them to go invent something. Draw the chalk line and let them go anywhere within it; give them permission to fail."
Through failure comes knowledge of where success lies, he said.
"People don't fail enough," agreed Christopher W. Detloff, application development director for financial services provider Servicemaster in Illinois. A lack of failures indicates a lack of trying new things, he said.
As Servicemaster embarks on its e-business strategies, it has created virtual teams and let them go, Detloff said.
"But it all starts with leadership," he said. "Without that, you're not going anywhere."