Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric at the time it had the largest market capitalization of any US public company, said that the goal of business is Winning. To win, you must focus on what counts and avoid distractions, something that’s increasingly difficult to achieve in this fast-paced, complex, interrelated world. What worked yesterday may not work tomorrow; indeed, it may no longer be relevant. That’s why leaders of successful companies develop business plans to address strategy, culture and leadership, assess them routinely (at least once a year), and regularly modify them to achieve continuous improvement.
When was the last time you reviewed your business strategy and culture, and the leadership and systems that make them work? Here are some of the issues you should explore:
- What’s your corporate purpose, strategic goals and core values? Have they changed? Why?
- Today, what are your internal Strengths and Weaknesses? How have external Opportunities and Threats affect your business? How are you leveraging the former to address the latter?
- Do you have the right people, in the right positions, doing the right jobs?
- Is everyone aligned to promote individual and team success, or are they working in silos at independent (and possibly cross) purposes?
- What’s your brand value? Is it sustainably superior to those of competitors?
A Competitive Advantage (CA) gives customers/clients a reason to choose your firm because it is superior when it comes to meeting their needs, compared to rivals and alternative vendors/partners. Winners know why customers, strategic allies and investors choose their firm over the competition.
A Commanding Strategy (CS) goes further. Today’s CA can be lost if competitors figure out how to duplicate what you do. Think of the PC market: Compaq beat out IBM with a business model that leveraged lower costs of parts; Dell beat out HP with a different business model that profitably provided still lower prices. Yet today, PC companies all use similar models for keeping prices low – providing little distinction between products. Major competitive advantages have disappeared.
In contrast, a CS uses an asymmetric business strategy against rivals: leverage your “strengths” against what they perceive to be their “advantage” which actually turn out to be weaknesses against you. In the David vs. Goliath contest, Goliath’s greater size was not an “advantage” against David who chose to compete with a slingshot, not hand-to-hand. His greater size made it easier to land the stone where he aimed it! Similarly, companies like Apple, FedEx, TD Bank, and Southwest Airlines compete on their own terms reducing the supposed value of competitors’ “strengths” in their head-to-head competition. Through branding, distinguishable customer experiences, differentiated organizational structures and cultures aligned core values, these winners create “ecosystems” which adopt holistic, integrated and synergistic policies/practices that can’t be easily matched by competitors – and assure longer-term success.
At Commanding Strategies, we help you find your potentially sustainable competitive advantage. We forge the processes and practices that turn it into a sustainable, long-term Commanding Strategy. We often start with a Strategic Leadership Advance to identify competing values and approaches and identify the winning strategy; we continue through consulting to ensure execution of your strategy by a team aligned with your core values.