Gene Klein, a Holocaust survivor, reflects on the life lessons he has extracted from his trials in a German concentration camp.
2 strategies he utilized to survive his life-threatening circumstances are:
Accelerated opportunity taking
Gene explains how he had to seize opportunities at the moment they were presented. Assessing the outcome of the status quo enabled Gene to construct a strategy that would enable him reach the goal of survival. The establishment of a predefined strategy enabled Gene to assess opportunities faster than others which ultimately saved his life.
Gene implemented a simple incentive model: If he survived the day he would consider his goal successfully accomplished for the day. Every morning the “game” would initiate and every night if he was able to make it back to his bed he would define that day as a victorious day for himself. Gene made it through the harshest environments through finding an internal motivational model which allowed him to achieve his ultimate goal.
We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.
Plotting Technology against Hype
Emerging technologies provide an opportunity for early adaptors to gain a head start over competitors. At the same time, earlier adopters face the risk of hidden complexities. A risk that could see their investment yield a null return on the original promise.
Gartner’s Hype Cycle is a framework which can be used to evaluate a technology’s maturity against the hype and, by inference, the risk of adoption.
The Hype Cycle plots a technologies path along 5 points:
1. Innovation initiation
Social media initiates a wave of excitement as influencers first discover the technology. Technology evanalists fixate on the potential of the innovation.
2. Crest of promoted expectations
Few numbers of large successful implementations are published. Companies evaluate the technology based on the excitement. They attempt to hedge risk as far as possible.
3. Pit of disillusionment
Social media attention declines. Few companies are able to boast grand successes inline with original forecasts.
4. Ascent of enlightenment
More practical functions are found for the technology. Growth in implementation numbers increase off the back of revised business models. As skill availability increases more companies tentatively adopt the technology. Total number of published use cases increase.
5. Plateau of productivity
Larger market adoption takes place. The larger market views the technology as stable.
Technology does provide an advantage when adopted earlier than competitors. To yield an effective return timing needs to be accurate. The hype cycle framework helps determine the best moment to select a technology within the mixed chorus of excitement and resentment.
The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do
– Michael Porter
One of the many challenges facing young businesses is the effective decision making around pursuing freshly discovered opportunities given the company’s founding vision. In an attempt to diversify away from risk, aggressive opportunity grabbing often times leads to a distraction from founding objectives. What is needed is the formulation of a business strategy leaders can use to set direction and prevent distraction from valid but unsuited opportunities at hand.
A strategy is the mechanism and framing tool through which a company can use to outline a plan to achieve the decided objectives. A defined strategy makes it efficient to communicate to the wider company and shareholders. Put plainly, a defined strategy helps decision makers turn down opportunities that would distract the business and pursue matching opportunities with precision.
One framework that can be utilized to find an appropriate strategy is the “Grand Strategy Matrix”. This tool maps a company’s position on the intersection of market growth and competitive positioning and proposes a number of strategies that best suit that position. The first step is to gain consensus on the company’s position within the market. Many tools exist however SWOT analysis when responsibly engaged, provide a solid basis for the entry into a strategy finding activity.
The most efficient mechanism to gain qualified information as an input into the Grand Strategy Matrix is to perform an internal and external audit. The internal audit will reveal the top 5 key internal strengths and weaknesses that rest under the control of the company. Equally, the external will should reveal a top 5 opportunities and strengths within the market the company operates in. The underlying outcome is a good understanding of the market, its growth, and the businesses position within that market.
2. Map the company position on the matrix
Once a context is created through the SWOT analysis the Grand Strategy Matrix provides the framework to plot the business across the axis of Market Growth and Competitive position. The result will put the business in one of four quadrants representing a set of strategies most appropriate for the company positioning.
Businesses positioned in a strong competitive position and strong market growth quadrant are positioned to further maximize gains by intensifying their market position in the growing market. As the pie grows these businesses seek a bigger portion of it. The following strategies are best suited such an objective:
Product development or;
Quad 2: Diversification set of strategies
Driven by weak market growth but strong competitive position these set of strategies seek to increase overall market share through expanded product/service offerings
The strategies involved in reaching the growth objectives are:
Horizontal diversification or;
Quad 3: Defensive set of strategies
Cost cutting and competition repelling strategies are needed when the business is situated within the defensive quadrant. The following strategies apply:
Quad 4: Integration set of strategies
Integration strategies seek to increase margin within a growing market by reducing the transaction cost in delivering a product/service to the customer. The following strategies apply:
Backward integration or;
The framework allows companies to filter opportunities through an accurate business strategy. When using the Grand Strategy Matrix company leaders are able to select a strategy based on company position within a dynamic market. The result is a reduced waste, increased efficiency, and tighter company alignment.