For years now, our clients have let us build a different kind of strategy with them. They’ve let us not only catalyze and define the big idea, but they let us work with them to translate that big idea into a plan and approach that everyone buys into and ultimately makes real.
Many people have helped me pick the title of my new book in contributing ideas or reviewing options. It seemed only fair to update you now that we’ve made the …
Congrats on your new role. For many of us in the tech industry, Yahoo is more than a company, it’s a Silicon Valley icon. By putting in the kind of strong management you represent, I hope the board is signaling the company’s intent to reinvent itself and thrive once again. Your opportunities speak to opportunities for every tech firm, so we’re going to make this an Open Letter in the hope that everyone can learn from the experience you’re about to have.
What should you do? Do you stop things? Start things? Answer: yes, to both. Of course you should rethink and reevaluate but if you do that for long you put at risk the current business or effort simply because you didn’t execute what you could have done.
What is the essence of your character? Said differently, what matters to you? This isn’t just a touchy-feely question, it’s the bedrock that describes who you are. What is deeply …
Public statements notwithstanding, more business plans in Silicon Valley are built around technology than around customer relationships. It’s just the way it is; we’re talking about technology companies, right? The problem is that, given time, all technology either becomes obsolete or a commodity. With the increasing pace of technological change, this is happening sooner rather than later. The risk in building on technology rather than customer relationships is that you are never more than a wrong turn or two away from putting your business survival at risk. Customer relationships provide your business with more options, and strong relationships can be very forgiving of the occasional misstep, meaning your business is more resilient and your plans can be bolder. Further–and perhaps even more important–technology-centric business models limit your offerings and growth potential, so they are associated with lower valuations over the long term.
If your business is targeted by a larger competitor, the natural response is to want to play defense — to squeeze pricing, take special care of the channel, maybe do some promotions and guerrilla marketing. We’d never advise you to take your eye off a competitor, but the defensive reaction isn’t always the best way to fight. A larger competitor will expect you to do these things, and will usually be well prepared for siege warfare. They’ll be ready to match your pricing and outspend you in the channel in order to drive you out of the market.
Executives at the helm of companies from small firms to large enterprises spend much of their time thinking about how to drive growth. But putting those thoughts into action can challenge even the most seasoned leader. Often executives focus on the “what” of strategy at the expense of the “how” — neglecting the “how” makes success a long shot.
I’ve watched strategy being developed within companies like Adobe, Apple, Autodesk, and Nokia. I’ve seen strategy created by individuals. I’ve seen the big suits of Bain and McKinsey at work. I’ve seen it done well, and occasionally I’ve seen it done poorly. Having read more than 100 books that define the best thinking on strategy, I’ve noticed that following the existing methods often doesn’t yield success.
It’s not just the methodology. Here are five reasons strategy fails in businesses: