Strategy in Action

Question: 

How can one strategize correctly?

Gary's Answer: 

The most important aspect of finding a successful strategy is getting outside of our own heads and focusing on solving problems. We find successful strategies exploring the world. We do NOT create them through a process of deep thinking. The most effective “strategizing” is improving our competitive position. Our position describes how we are compared to others within our competitive environment. Improving our competitive position is not a plan. It is a process.

We cannot even understand our customer strategic position without talking to customers. The first step to listen. Since we think we know our situations, we must start by suspecting that much of what we think we know is wrong, There is a systematic way we can listen build a more accurate picture of the competitive environment. There are rules about who to listen to and what information is most valuable, but any form of humble listening to those in our competitive arena is a good start.

If we listen, we will discover that people have unmet needs. If we are interested in their needs, their problems, their desires, we will find many opportunities among them. All opportunities initially look like problems. Then we must focus.We must aim at one specific problem/opportunity in an area where we are already positioned to address the problem. Again there is a systematic way to separate good opportunities from bad, but the most important factor is to pick something worth doing and which can be easily done from the position we are currently in.

Then, we must act and explore the nature of the problem/opportunity. This means we must move from doing what we are currently doing to something else or to doing it differently. In this process, we are likely to confront certain common competitive challenges and it is useful to know the right ways to respond to them. However, in the end, we cannot be successful in our move unless we create something new. New positions can be explored with standard methods, but it takes something new and surprising to win them.

Finally, we must claim the new position. We must bring it to the attention of others and ask them to show us what it is worth to them. This is where we discover the value of our strategic listening, aiming, and moving. Again, there are a lot of special methods we can use here, but the goal is to test the value of what we have done.

That is strategizing in action. It works consistently. Maybe not every move will be successful in terms of getting rewarded, but every move improves our knowledge of our true position in the world and its potential.