As we have all heard, when Henry Ford started mass producing the Model T in 1913, there were many horse breeders and carriage manufacturers who felt the same way. It's the perspective that is exemplified in the phrase, "But we've always done things that way." It's this insensitivity to the greater business environment that has helped seal the fate of scores of companies, including high-profile examples such as Borders, Blockbuster and Eastman Kodak.
We're living in complex, fast-moving times. There are multiple business transformation triggers in play at the same time and with equal force – triggers such as globalization, shifts in technology, the challenges of regulatory compliance and shifts in customer demand.
Read MoreDo the rich pay lower taxes than the middle class?
A recent survey of more than 900 business leaders uncovered the following deep insights about CEOs grappling to balance the need for short-term performance with the imperative of long-term strategic planning to transform their business:
- The right strategic vision is critical – In addition to anticipating what your customers are going to want, you need to define the depth and scope of the changes and redesign your internal processes and broader eco-system.
- Execution is the hardest part of transformation – More than half of all companies undertaking transformation will fail to achieve their desired outcomes. One of the most common stumbling blocks is underestimating the operating model refinements that will be required across the organization.
- Beware leaders who are clinging to past or current successes – This is the hypnotic siren song of the status quo. Transformation needs to be a continuous, never-ending process rather than a distinct "event".
The one common feature I see in corporations which survive beyond middle age is a willingness to constantly change, to innovate and stay ahead of the competition, not simply rest on their current success. I find myself agreeing with Disney CEO Bob Iger's view that "The riskiest thing we can do is just maintain the status quo."
Mark Goodburn is Global Head of Advisory at KPMG International
Read MoreSmall business optimism at 8-year high