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When Strategy Doesn’t Work

We are extremely pleased with the relationship we have forged with Focus Solutions, and delighted with their ability to interpret sometimes complex briefs and deliver results that are interpretable and actionable in the real business world.

Developing a strategy is no guarantee of success. Often strategy doesn’t work or doesn’t live up to expectations or, worst of all, remains in the drawer. We think strategy is doomed to fail when companies break some fundamental principles in strategy development, so we work hard to ensure our clients don’t make the same mistakes: they create evidence-based strategy. Some common forms of misstep are:

Focusing too much on the competition – trying to replicate everything the competition does. Thinking they must be right. Thinking the company should be the same. In reality, replicating strategy is difficult and dangerous if the competition has based its execution on core competencies the company doesn’t have.

Avoiding difficult choices – trying too meet the needs of too many different customers with too few differentiated products. The outcome is often over-served or under-served customers being targeted by the competition.

Not leveraging core competencies – at the core of most successful strategies are competencies that afford the right to win with a type of customer, and an understanding of how these are leveraged to command a higher price, satisfy different customer needs or reduce the cost-to-serve model. Not leveraging the company’s core competencies often results in unnoticed opportunities and head-to-head competition that erodes margin.

Not translating strategy into actions – everyday the company makes thousands of decisions, allocates resources to projects, etc. Not knowing the guiding policy, not having an aligned business plan, not having cascading performance objectives, not having the resources or capabilities to execute the strategy effectively can, ultimately, only lead to one outcome. More than 50% of good strategy is about execution.

Being too inflexible – nobody knows the future with absolute certainty. Think back five-years. Your company is most likely very different now. Strategy needs to be flexible, incorporating uncertainty enables the company to plan for adjustments as events unfold. Not doing so is over-committing and unnecessarily restraining the company. Good strategy is a mix of big-bets, no-regret moves and cautious next-steps.

Assumption bias – the forces that drove historic growth can change or decelerate, supply and demand forces change, competitor strategy adjusts, etc. The outcome is that the company is reliant on future success being determined by underpinning assumptions that are no longer true. The leader’s natural bias about what works and what doesn’t sometimes prevents them from seeing reality for the way it is, as opposed to the way reality used to be or should be.

We work closely with our clients so they benefit from our experience and capabilities and realise a quality of action.

Refuelling growth with a New Value Proposition

Knowing When Competitive Advantage is Real