Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Can BlackBerry get back on track by refocusing and reinventing business strategy

During a Business Week interview in May 1998, Steve Jobs, great visionary of the twenty first century, said, “That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” This is one of Steve Jobs’ most famous quotes and I feel that it is especially pertinent to this weeks reading as strategy is not a simple thing. We learned weeks ago that strategic planning could take long periods of time to plan out. And within that period, hundreds and hundreds of pages of analysis pile up to make the strategic plan. So how can we make even the most sophisticated strategic clear and simple? The article, “Bringing Science to the Art of Strategy”, calls for companies to deviate from their number crunching and conventional strategic plans, and adopt a step-by-step process in which the strategy is derived from choices rather than responding to issues. Call it the scientific method for strategic development. From those mutually exclusive choices create versions of possibilities to those choices. The rest of the steps are more analytical but the focus of this process is to let creative ideas lead the strategy development process and then use discussion and analysis to support those possibilities. This relates back to my original point of focus and simplicity because by generating choices you are effectively focusing in on what the strategy is trying to accomplish in a clear and succinct manner. The other article mirrors a similar approach where organizations must define their scope and advantage into a simple strategy statement. If organizations can achieve clarity and focus within their statement, formulation and implementation becomes much simpler and easily communicated to everyone in the organization.


While I was reading these articles, I could not help but to think of BlackBerry or RIM as a company and how these frameworks might help the company. Ever since the onset of iOS and Android, the company has been struggling to find its place within the mobile industry. Unfortunately, their newer products offered too little and were too late to the mobile scene and even their most loyal business customers are transitioning to other platforms. So using the framework in “Can You Say What Your Strategy Is?”, what will BlackBerry’s strategy be?  Perhaps their objective is to growth the organization back to its former glory by addressing the needs of their most loyal business through new product and service offerings. Their scope can be limited to the “achiever” or the “career-driven”. And lastly, BlackBerry sure must know that their older devices are still preferred among large corporations because of the way it handles business oriented tasks such as scheduling conferences and replying to email.

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