Posts Tagged ‘businesses’

4 More Reasons Why Strategy Isn’t Dead In The Water

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

Saying strategy is dead is a sweeping generalization.4 more reasons why strategy isn't dead

I don’t buy the argument that strategy is a complete waste of time for every company, regardless of size or industry.

There’s no question that the world has changed dramatically and we have to change how we approach strategy.

But to say that we should stop doing strategy completely is throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

Two articles which appeared recently, one in the Globe and Mail and an earlier article in Forbes magazine, laid out 7 reasons why strategy is, or may be, dead.

Last week I commented on the first 3 reasons, here are my thoughts on the other 4.

4.  Competitive lines have dissolved. Strategy, it is argued, has long been based on well-defined market sectors, containing established competitors. Now a competitor is likely to come from an entirely different sector.

But is this a new phenomenon? Didn’t IBM, under Lou Gerstner, become an IT solutions provider?

5.  Information has gone from scarcity to abundancy. It is argued that the value of strategic planners and consultants lay in the proprietary, or scarce, information they possessed. Today, information is easily accessed via the web.

Commenting on this point one of the authors of the 2 articles said “It’s …….how you translate that information into actionable activities that is critical”. Isn’t that what strategy execution was – and still is – all about?

6.  It is very difficult to forecast (option values). Before opening a new factory, expected costs were compared to forecast revenues to see if it was a good investment. But, it’s argued, the outcomes of investments in, for example, the Internet of Things are wild guesses at best. Is this new? We’ve had to make educated (not wild) guesses about the unknown for years, e.g. the development of the Boeing 747, the world’s first jumbo jet.

7.  Large scale execution is trumped by rapid transactional learning. In the past, organizations could roll out improvement programs in a deliberate, staged fashion over a number of years. These days, it’s a whirlwind, and you must be learning all the time.

Recently I wrote about Rita McGrath’s book ‘The End Of Competitive Advantage’, which profiles 10 large, publicly-traded corporations that have found ways to combine internal stability with tremendous external flexibility and achieved remarkable results.

Have they abandoned strategy? No.

If whales can do it, so can minnows.


If you enjoyed this post you’ll also enjoy The Difference Between A Strategy And A Plan

Click here and automatically receive our latest blog posts.


Jim Stewart is the founding Partner at ProfitPATH. He has been working with business owners for over 16 years to increase profits and improve the value of their companies. LinkedIn


“It’s The Worst Product But It’s The Cheapest” Isn’t A Viable Strategy

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Given the developments in data science, it was inevitable.The worst product but the cheapest - not a viable strategy

After spending 7 or 8 years building databases and algorithms, Thomas Thurston has determined the factors that are common to businesses which succeed – and those which fail.

His models can now be used to predict the outcome of investments by
•  Mid- and large-size companies in business development, and
•  Venture capitalists in startups and early stage companies.

Clayton Christensen who, in my opinion, is one of the best thinkers about business today, has recognized Thurston’s research and predictive models.

So you have to take them seriously.

Thurston says that a company’s strategy is where they find most predictive variables. He doesn’t say whether it’s the strategy itself, the way in which it’s executed, or both, that matters.

He does, however, make a couple of interesting points about strategies which work and those that don’t.

For example, brand new startups, which claim to have the best “widget” on the market, fail about 90% of the time. On average, however, “only” 70% – 80% of businesses fail in their first 10 years.

Thurston claims the best widget startups face worse odds than average because, if they are right and their product/service is the best available, bigger competitors, with deep pockets, put them out of business.

His favourite strategy is to “go to market with the worst product but it’s the cheapest”, citing Walmart, McDonalds and Southwest Airlines as examples.

I take his point but have a problem with calling them all the worst products. If that were the case, for example, Southwest Airlines would have a much worse safety record than other airlines.

He seems to be suggesting low cost automatically means low quality which is not necessarily the case.

Walmart stocks brands that are perceived as offering quality at a lower cost i.e. better value than at other stores. Walmart keeps those costs low by the way it redefined the traditional retail model.

McDonalds, Southwest and Walmart may have grown by taking value-conscious customers away from their larger competitors, leaving them the customers they perceived as “best”.

But I dispute that any consumer adopts the worst product on the market simply because it’s the cheapest. If they did, they’d try it once – and never go back.

That’s my view. What’s yours?

You can see the article, which provoked my little rant, here.

If you enjoyed this post you’ll also enjoy Prices – 6 Reasons to Keep Them Up.

Click here and automatically receive our latest blog posts.


Jim Stewart is the founding Partner at ProfitPATH. He has been working with business owners for over 16 years to increase profits and improve the value of their companies. LinkedIn

Post History