A number of factors are challenging traditional strategic approaches—from globalization and economic interconnections, to technology advancements and disruptions. Yet execution, based on a solid strategy, is more important than ever. Those vying for market leadership are in constant motion—and the performance gap between winners and losers is widening. To manage these trends, leaders must acknowledge the tradeoff between exploration and exploitation. Our approach is to guide our clients through the exploration and help them navigate the course of their new business journey.
The role of corporate strategy is to ensure that the value of the enterprise as a whole is more than the sum of its parts. Developing an effective corporate strategy requires a relentless focus on value creation—and thoughtful attention to creating: a distinct and transparent long-term vision; a clear portfolio strategy to realize that vision; and distinct corporate policies and processes that reflect the organization’s execution and leadership approach.
Product and service innovation are essential, but business model innovation can deliver more lasting competitive advantage, particularly in disruptive times. In the past 50 years, the average business model lifespan has fallen from about 15 years to less than five. As a result, business model innovation is now an essential capability for organizations seeking to drive breakout growth, reinvigorate a lagging core, or defend against industry disruption or decline.
If corporate strategy is about determining the optimal allocation of capital across a portfolio of strategic business units, then the business unit strategy should decide how best to deploy that capital to create value. A business unit can only succeed if it satisfies the evolving needs and expectations of its customers, reinforces market viability, and delivers more profitability than its competitors.
The most effective strategic planning processes focus on leveraging insights, harnessing institutional knowledge, and maintaining a realistic focus on strengths and weaknesses. Most organizations are frustrated with their current approaches, which are rigid, slow, reactive, and disconnected from market reality and customer expectations. They doubt their process can see around the corner to reveal the big, disruptive opportunities that will drive long-term value creation. Current pandemic and emerging post-pandemic realities call for much nimbler approaches that match the speed of planning and execution to that of the market.
Explore strategy at multiple time horizons. The long-, medium-, and short-term scenarios need to be addressed individually. Each demands different goals, stakeholders, and rhythms—and none should be ignored.
Reinvent and stimulate the strategic dialogue regularly. It’s easy for a strategy process to fall prey to the law of diminishing returns. Rather than change the process, many leading practitioners inject inspiration and novelty by focusing their process on a changing set of key strategic questions.
Engage the broad organization and beyond. Going beyond the central strategy team to business leads, board members, customers, and even suppliers can help avoid groupthink, boost preparedness and agility, and lead to better strategic execution.
Invest in execution and monitoring. Clear communication is essential, but so are the right organization and metrics. Priority strategic initiatives needs to be protected from the day to day and tracked via a shared performance dashboard.