In the 1 June Strategy Development class, someone raised the question about corporate strategies being copied and how a company can avoid that. I assert that if a company is copying anything, it is likely product development, adoption of quality standards, possibly technology investments, marketing outreach, corporate structure or operational activities. Recall the various definitions of strategy and you will be reminded that strategy cannot be copied. Even if some positioning choices or product releases made by the “fast follower” or “me too” company resemble the competition, the fast follower is still establishing its corporate strategy in reaction to the front runner, and based on its own company’s processes, people, and operations. Still, all companies possess (might be the wrong word- maybe identify? exude?) a key differentiator that enhances the dominant player’s strengths and keeps the other competition lapping at their heels.
Michael Porter defines strategy as “the creation of a unique and valuable position, involving a different set of activities…. The essence of strategic positioning is to choose activities that are different from rivals.” Elsewhere, Porter has discussed strategy as “building a unique business that will retain its competitive advantage.” Porter urges managers to ask themselves, “Every day, every meeting, every decision, has to be clear… Is this an operational best practice or is this something that’s improving on my strategic distinction?” The words he uses are important: Different, Unique, Distinct, Advantage
Porter, Michael E.. What is Strategy? Harvard Business Review, November-December 1996.
From Knowledge@Wharton published November 01, 2006 http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article.cfm?articleid=1594 accessed 6/6/2011