Position as a Goal, a Tool, and a Context

Question: 

What is the connection of your strategy to your strategic positioning?

Gary's Answer: 

‘There are three connections between a strategy and a strategic position.

  1. Positions are the goal of strategies.
  2. Positions are the tools of strategies.
  3. Positions provide the context of a strategy.

First, the goal of a strategy is simply to advance your strategic position, that is, your competitive position. Competition means comparison. Comparisons must be made before decisions can be made. Positions are how people rank the relative value of their alternatives. By “advance your position”, we mean to improve the way your strategic position is ranked in comparison to others.

So, from this perspective, a strategic position is the object of strategy, what we are trying to improve by using a given strategy in a given situation.

Second, a strategic position is also a tool for your strategy. We use our existing position to advance our position. Positions are advanced either by expanding them or by exchanging them for a new position. In either case, advancing a position requires moving, which requires resources. Using your current job as an example, you can improve your position by getting a promotion or moving to a new company. In either case, your current position, that is, your work experience is the resource that makes either advance possible.

Finally, all possible strategies for you are based not only on your strategic position but its dynamic relationship with all the other strategic positions around it. The opportunities that you can use to advance are defined by the “location” of your position within the competitive environment. By definition, opportunities you can use must arise as an opening in the environment around your current position. This location is both physical and psychological since positions exist both physically in the world and psychologically in the minds of those who know you.