Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Strategy Strong for the Future

By: Lauren Selleck

It is not enough for organizations to create a dynamic strategy to help move them into a strategic market position for the present or the future. Companies must create a strategy that focuses on core values, defines the customer, and clearly states which party will be the center of organizational focus [1]. The focus of the organization should either be the shareholders, employees or customers and the chosen focus must be clearly communicated [1]. If the focus is unclear every party will suffer, for example, when Quaker Oats purchased Snapple, they pushed product instead trying to deliver quality products to its customers [2].  This was an unsuccessful strategy and cost Quaker Oats millions of dollars. On the other hand if an organization keeps their focus clear they are able to please all shareholders. For example, when Southwest CEO publicly and internally stated employees took precedence the organization flourished [1]. Without this obvious dedication to it’s employees, Southwest would not have the success it reaps today. 

Beyond a focused strategy, an organization must additionally establish simple rules and appropriate consequences [1]. Too many times have organizations created complicated scorecards and over-complicated rules. By keeping a straightforward strategy employees and shareholders are able to understand their roles and prosper. Employee buy-in becomes much higher with an uncomplicated strategy. Furthermore a clear-cut strategy allows for fluidity. The Britannica Encyclopedia became ridged with their door-to-door selling style and missed an opportunity to manufacture a CD-ROM.  Motorola, on the other hand, exceeded its technology capabilities of the time and forgot about its customer’s needs [2]. Both organizations became too enamored with their strategic plan and overlooked simplicity and focus.


Generating a simple and focused strategic plan can allow an organization to quickly evaluate and alter itself while keeping core values strong. Companies such as Amazon who claims to be “Earth’s most customer-centric company” inspires shareholders and allows for changes while keeping in line with this motto [1]. By asking questions a company will be able to avoid carrying an outdated strategy into a new day. Does this mean a company should not try and plan for the future and instead allow for the changes they know will come? Or try and take them into consideration and plan for them? 

[photo] http://www.factorking.com/blog/2011/4/23/the-4-best-business-tips-youll-ever-receive.html
[1] Simons, Robert. "Stress-Test Your Strategy: The 7 Questions to Ask." Harvard Business Review (2010): n. pag. Print.
[2] Carroll, Paul B., and Chunka Mui. "Seven Ways to Fail Big." Harvard Business Review(2008): n. pag. Print.

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