Sunday, December 11, 2011

Build Strategy Like You Build Software

This week's blog concentrates on the last two weeks of our strategy class which primarily focuses on two broad topics namely Taking Strategy From Development to Implementation and Future of Strategy. The readings starts with the article "G.E. Goes With What It Knows: Making Stuff" which centers around the fact that even for a Fortune 500 company like GE which apparently does not seem to make a mistake, actually does make a mistake. Many a times they have been in near disaster situations from which they have gradually recovered. From a huge portfolio of products and business units, it is not easy for high level GE mangers to pick certain products and/business units and then strategize on those. Neither it is easy for Start Ups especially in their incubation to finalize their product and/service lines and strategize on them. What really matters is that extra vision? That ability to see beyond certain obvious things. A classical example with regards to this would be "Amazon". Even like two years ago who knew that cloud computing would be the new buzzword in the IT arena. Amazon was one of the first few to spot this if not "the" first. Not many people would have even believed the possibility of an existence of this kind of a business model. But Amazon's founder Jeff Bezos had this vision and more importantly also had the conviction against all odds that it is going to succeed which he eventually proved it to the entire world. Amazon at some point of time was approaching near failure and was on the brink of being shut down but they came back from there. They came back from there bigger and better, stronger and higher making themselves as an idol or role model for many other Start Ups for ages to come.

Having said that, let us now focus on the second article from week 6 which says that most managers and executives cannot articulate their key strategies which however is none the less easy but real important. I once heard another Professor telling us that the best way to test what the strategy undertaken is good enough to be articulated and easily understood is by writing the strategy at the back of your business card;to which I totally agree. If the idea is so long that it cannot be printed at the back of a business card, maybe it is time for the mangers and the executives to revisit some of the strategies that they have undertaken. As we can see that there are two parts to strategy: one is the development and the other is the implementation of strategy and there is no hard and fast rule that the one is important than the other. Rather it is the heart and lung story wherein each is equally important for the body. Having said this,Keith Mc.Farland in his article "Should you build Strategy Like you build Software" pretty much sums up all the concepts of Strategy that we have studied so far wherein he highlights the fact nothing except change is the most constant thing and so there is no one single strategy that might work for one single company all the time. One strategy which might work now has a 50% chance of failing in the future. So, strategies might always be iteratively revisited till we are confident that "this is the one". And next we might once again go back to our vicious loop by asking when the question when and how can we certain about the moment that "this is the one". And this where true leaders excel over typical managers, level 5 leaders excel over level 4 leaders wherein they step up and take that once major decision based on their guts, intuition, foresightedness which might be a career turning one both for himself and the company. And who knows: may be sometimes it is just a sheer accident which we see it as a genius' act. What is your stance on this?


# In The News: G.E. Goes With What It Knows: Making Stuff (New York Times, December4, 2010)

# Article: Can You Say What Your Strategy Is? (Collis and Rukstad, Harvard Business Review, April 2008)

# Article: The Secrets to Successful Strategy Execution (Neilson, Martin, and Powers,Harvard Business Review, June 2008)

# Article: Lessons in Longevity, From IBM (Lohr, NY Times, June 2011)

# Article: Strategies That Fit Emerging Markets (Khanna, Palepu, and Sinha, Harvard

Business Review, June 2005)

# Article: Should You Build Strategy Like You Build Software? (McFarland, MIT Sloan Management Review, Spring 2008)

# Article: Creating Shared Value (Porter and Kramer, Harvard Business Review, January-February 2011)

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