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strategic inflection point

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

A strategic inflection point is a time period when an organization must respond to disruptive change in the business environment effectively or face deterioration.

An inflection point, in general, is a decisive moment in the course of some entity, event or situation that marks the start of significant change. The term comes from math, where it describes the point at which a convext (upward) curve turns concave (downward) or vice versa. Business-related inflection points can be caused by economic trends, environmental factors, competitive activities and disruptive technologies such as the personal computer and the smartphone, among other things.

In the early 1990s, Andy Grove, who was then CEO of Intel, coined the term strategic inflection point to underline the importance of business leaders taking action at such times. At an inflection point, change is inevitable, for good or ill: Business as usual cannot continue. According to Grove, the lack of an effective strategy in response to those events is likely to lead to failure.

See a video tutorial on strategic inflection points:

This was last updated in September 2015

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