Upon reflecting on the readings and case studies this week, the article “The Coherence Premium” emphasizes the need to focus on what companies do well and simplify their strategies. Instead of focusing on external positioning, which the article suggests is one of the most common pitfalls, companies should focus inward on what they do well. At a high level, this concept seems almost too simple to be successful, but the authors make a very strong case.
When a company sets out to create a growth strategy they should first examine their capabilities. Leinwand and Mainardi describe this process as identifying “something you do well that customer’s value and competitors can’t beat.” The example given about Phizer is a roadmap that can transcend any industry. They focused on innovation and “identified a core system of six interlocking capabilities.” The strategies that they used must fit into the interlocking capabilities, leaving little tolerance for unfocused attempts to succumb to the low hanging fruit.
As I reflect on these principles I can’t help but relate this to the non-profit world. In a non-profit the number one focus is on meeting the mission of the organization. The mission should be the foundation on which growth strategies are built, however, it is very easy to become reactive to current trends when creating these strategies. Finding areas in which the mission can create the most value and where competitors have a disadvantage should be where the focus is placed. Limited resources, fickle donors, and organizational culture make it very easy to lose sight of this concept.
When non-profits thing about strategies, a common mistake is to focus on adjacencies, rush to act on what brings in quick revenue, and swiftly enlist new programs. When creating membership programs, designing curriculum, developing fundraising campaigns, or organizing resources the overarching reason should always come back to what the non-profit does well. This is a simple yet proven way to maintain focus and ensure that the mission is at the forefront of developing a successful growth strategy.