The readings this week focused on the importance of having a strategy that is able to be communicated concisely to those inside and outside the organization. The reading Can You Say What Your Strategy Is? explored the importance of using a statement that gives a company’s objective, scope and competitive advantage inside and outside organizations. By having a well-understood statement, behaviors of numerous workers can be aligned and their overall actions can make one another’s more effective, allowing the whole operation to function much better. A clear strategy makes it easier for executives to formulate new plans and easier for everyone in an organization to implement it since the strategy can be easily communicated and internalized. This strategy isn’t just what someone should do, but when they should do it and for which market as well and in establishing these a company defines its competitive territory. A strategy should also apply to the product’s marketing with a value proposition that informs the targeted customer why they need what your product does for them and how your firm is the only one that can do that for them.
Bringing Science to the Art of the Strategy attempts to bring scientific rigor to the process of strategizing by adapting the scientific method to producing novel strategies. Much like the other reading this one emphasized defining the conditions that a product faces, like product segment and pre-conceived notions about a product. This reading, however, added the concept of possibilities or trajectories various plans could take. These do this in order to turn issues into choices so that numerous possible paths can be explored. From there the situation and the conditions necessary for success are clearly defined, which allows possible barriers to be identified so they can be tested prior to implementation and data from those tests can be used to provide a rationale to choose one strategy over another.
The Ben and Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream case drove home the danger of not having a strategy. What had started as an ice cream shop in an abandoned gas station grew to a major competitor in the superpremium ice cream market raking in $150 million in annual sales. Ben and Jerry’s did this by differentiating themselves from their competition by only using Vermont natural dairy and by using mix-in components particularly well in their products. Asides from the Vermont natural dairy, there wasn’t much of a strategic objective so the company pursued various actions not completely aligned with their strategy and saw their first year of losses, which meant that they had to bring on Bob Holland to help create organization and strategy.
With Ben and Jerry’s dilemma in mind, it’s little surprise that they’ve become certified as a Benefits Corporation. Benefits Corporations, or B corps for short, are corporations that work to incorporate social responsibility as a part of their corporate mission and make their business plan beholden to all possible stakeholders instead of just those shareholders as outlined in the Forbes article Why Consider a Benefit Corporation?. By picking a clear strategy that includes this Ben and Jerry’s could work to have a strategy that was both socially responsible while also outlining growth goals to achieve them, which also protects them from criticism from outsiders when they become part of a conglomerate while simultaneously preserving that mission to other influences from said conglomerate that may want to change it.