In my soon-to-be-published book The End of Competitive Advantage: How to Keep Your Strategy Moving as Fast as Your Business, (to be published June 4th) I argue that many of the strategic and management processes we inherited from a more stable strategic time simply don't work as environments become more volatile and uncertain. What I'm starting to look at now is how other institutions, beyond business, have made the assumption that businesses will be around for long periods of time and therefore are to be relied upon to tackle certain societal tasks. As advantages become short and companies struggle to cope, they are renegotiating many of these tasks in ways that I'm not sure we are paying enough attention to.
Over time, customers acquire certain perceptions which influence their emotional response to new offerings. By recognizing such perceptions, you can position your offering so as to have the best likelihood of infatuating customers.
I’ve been researching what allows companies to be successful, even when their competitive advantages are short-lived. One that came to my attention is the Regus Group, Ltd., a company that provides many services but is best-known for its offices-for-rent business.
Regus first came to my attention when I met Rudy Lobo, their Chief Operating Officer. He’s a man in a hurry. Intense and energetic, he tells me that he is finally considering establishing a permanent home in a semi-rural part of England after “thirty moves in thirty years.” All that momentum is not accidental. Lobo’s company is one of many that I’ve been studying whose leaders seem comfortable that their current competitive advantages won’t last, and don’t waste too much time clinging on to them once competitors have caught up or the moment has passed.
Strategy is a topic that is sometimes hard to grasp, and to create and execute a successful one is an on-going challenge for many companies. This year proves to be no different, as the economy begins to improve a little, but with clear challenges ahead in terms of expanding to new markets, reaching different customers, and driving innovation in a world where everyone considers innovation the big strategic advantage.
How can you create a strategy that considers all of these diverse challenges, and remains true to your company’s vision? In the following WOBI Ranking we reveal the top 5 strategic challenges to expect this year, and how to best prepare yourself and your business to successfully overcome them.
Are you simply imitating your competitors or only seeking an incremental advantage over them? Why not sidestep them altogether, by focusing on what customers really want? By understanding and maximizing how your offering creates lifestyle enrichment, you can do just that.
Friends for over 20 years, the former CEO of Procter & Gamble met the now dean of the Rotman School of Management when both had a lot lower profiles: as a category manager in P&G’s laundry business and as an outside consultant from a small strategy firm call Monitor Company. A.G. Lafley and Roger Martin (respectively) have since formed a partnership on thinking about strategy, and when Lafley was challenged with transforming a struggling P&G as CEO between 2000 and 2009, Martin was there consulting him to the company’s impressive turn around. Together they wrote a book about the transformational story: Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works(2013).
A story of career partnership, the subsequent strategy developed between the two turned into the standard process at P&G. However, they argue that it isn’t just a strategy that is for a large, multinational consumer goods company but one can be applied to just about any organization that is playing to win. They want to provide the business world with a do-it-yourself strategy plan, based on answering the following five strategic questions, that they previewed in a Part 1/Part 2 publication in the Financial Post as a teaser for the book:
The opossum is a strange animal. Its principal line of defense against potential predators is feigning death. While an ingenious and innovative psychological deterrent, this has at least two significant risks if not followed up by subsequent innovations.
First, it banks on predators’ tastes not changing over time. But what if a stiff, carcass-like appearance eventually becomes an appetite enhancer and not suppressant for savage beasts?
Recently, the CEO of Yahoo!, Marissa Mayer, announced that starting in June all the collaborators working remotely must return to working in an office, the reason being: "To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices," said Mayer.
The turmoil unleashed by such a decision has been deafening, not just within the company, which has one of the largest at-home workforces, but also in the business world.
Sir Richard Branson was shocked by the decision, to the point of posting on his Twitter account the following comment: "Perplexed by Yahoo! stopping remote working. Give people the freedom of where to work & they will excel.”
An avid proponent of looking at the world through humorous inquisitiveness to fuel our creativity and imagination, Gabor pens this weekly series of comic anecdotes on strategy and innovation.
A principal premise of SLINGSHOT, is that while there is no such thing as a perfectly and continuously satisfied customer, there is such a thing as an infatuated customer. As with personal relationships, infatuation occurs when customers first come into contact with a product or a service that deeply resonates with them.
Consequently, they become temporarily blinded by any shortcomings or possible defects and are in a trance of positive affiliation. This is the type of strong emotional connectivity that you should strive to create and re-create over and over again with your customers.
Just about as extreme an example of the power of emotional connectivity as you can get, is the saga of the legendary East German passenger car, the Trabant. The former communist economies of Eastern Europe produced some of the most incredible cars ever made. Behind the iron curtain only East European vehicles were available, and people had to wait up to ten years to get one.
For the first time in history since the industrial revolution, there seems to be a rupture between business and society, a distancing between corporations and people. Michael Porter, the celebrated strategy guru, understands that companies are no longer faced with the traditional management challenges that he has in the past helped solve, but are now in an entirely new situation with distinct issues.
“Years ago, at least in the U.S., companies were a place that people wanted to be,” comments Porter. “This has been lost. The idea that companies exist to maximize profits for their shareholders isn’t attractive anymore. When benefits are lost, jobs are limited and salaries cut, and society began to question corporations. So the corporate world will have to change their mentality, sketch out new theories, establish new brands of reference to better understand these problems, and be aware of what is going on internally and externally.” Porter has made a contribution to this change, a term he has coined as “shared value”.