Strategy is something quite close to my heart. The challenge of unpacking a problem and looking at its various component parts is something that I thoroughly enjoy doing. Putting those pieces back together with a thorough understanding of where each piece goes as well as why it exists in the first place is a very satisfying feeling.
In addition there is a great feeling of accomplishment that comes from helping others with their strategic conundrums. In part I think that is where this post stems from.
Strategic thought and strategic ability, I have come to realise, are two very different things. For the most part; strategic thought is arguably a lot easier to master than strategic ability. I categorise the two as follows:
Strategic thought is seeing a problem from many different angles and then pontificating at length as to the way these angles reflect each other and can interplay.
Strategic ability is the same as above; except that the thought leads to action which leads to a positive outcome.
This leads me to my point (finally)… As an organisation; are you placing emphasis on the action that your strategic thinking has developed?
I ask this as I have seen a lot of companies recently selling something that is easily copied or replicated! They are not differentiating themselves from those in the same industry as them! Their products and services are commoditised. They have become just a face in the crowd when their potential clients go shopping!
So I am asking; “Have you thought about how your industry is going to look in a few years time? What new competitors will have entered the market and what their product mixes might look like?”.
By way of an example; let’s look at a web design company. They are literally; at this stage; a dime a dozen. They are offering a service that arguably (for the most part) can be done by almost anyone with a bit of web savvy and a knowledge of WordPress. There is nothing strategic about just designing a website. There is no added value behind offering only that service.
Yet, there are so many companies out there that are selling exactly that. The bottom line here is that products and services are largely commodotised. They are replicable and they are subject to marginalization.
Why then try to compete on only that?! Offer combinations of product and service that are most importantly solving a need; but are also unique to you! This makes your service offering difficult to replicate and differentiates you in a crowded marketplace.
Organisations need to stop having strategic breakaway sessions that amount to nothing more than strategic thought. Those sessions need to permeate through everything that you do and ultimately need to position your organisation effectively for the future!