The Q-Strategy: Corporate Strategy Unchained


                     DRAFT                                    DRAFT                                    DRAFT


New concept

Criticism of "monogamous" approach

Outline - Questions, Quartenary, Quorum



Questions and Qoogols the power of the right question


        Positioning Porter, and then modified

        Entrepreneurial - grand vision comments

        Cultural - Tribal leadership comments and mirror image; tribal quorums

        Power - negotiation comments

The outcome-the Flywheel to close with a powerful image

II. TACTICS  (shorter version of what is at Services)

III. EXECUTION (shorter version of what is in Services, perhaps adding HIT the HITs

closes with the powerful Flywheel image.  



The traditional view of strategy formation is that it is an extraordinarily complex subject.  That is reflected in the sophisticated treatment it has received both in academia and the boardroom.  Depending upon the predilections (fn.) of the coach and client, one may set forth on this path with vigor (fn.) and make rapid strides (fn.) forward.  Alternatively, one may decide to approach strategy formation as a "high impact tactics" (HIT) appropriate for a one-shot "high intensity team" (HIT).  HIT/HIT may very well be the solution of choice, given a particular set of circumstances.  But it will not generally be appropriate "across the board". (fn.) 

One can compare strategy formation to learning a language. Language can be acquired naturally, as children do growing up.  They at first learn through imitation, trial and error, and constant repetition. By the time they encounter  (fn.) a strategy (the plan for them to learn how to read in the 1st grade), they can already speak, indeed chatter (fn.) away, using complicated grammar.  (And some of them have already begun to read as well.)

Although one might not think so, some strategies evolve (fn.) in a similar way.  One Silicon Valley icon, (fn.) who was renowned (fn.) for his brillant, innovative (fn.) marketing strategies, was asked how he devised (fn.) them at a Stanford MBA forum.  (fn.)  Naturally the question was couched (fn.) in highly sophisticated marketing jargon.  The venerable (fn.) entrepreneur, by now Chairman of the Board of the major multinational corporation he had founded, looked slightly confused and paused.  Then he said:  "But I don´t know anything about marketing.  I just love my customers, that's all.  I always have, ever since I started out with them as a teenager."

Of course this entrepreneur's decades of focus on his customers were not always effortless.  Neither was our acquisition of our native language, as most of us recall from our sometimes less than brillant efforts to analyze poetry at secondary school.  In fact, it takes about 20 years to achieve a full, educated command of one's native language.  Enriching (fn.) one's vocabulary and improving one's writing skills are lifetime tasks. 

Learning a foreign language as an adult is, for most of us, another matter entirely.   Devising (fn.) a brand new strategy may be compared to the challenge adult faces in learning a new language. 

Adults learn foreign languages in different ways, with different strengths and weaknesses and at different paces.  Similarly, the best approach for strategy formation differs among CEOs, and differs among companies (the company as learning organization) and divisions as well.  The different schools of strategic thought have an unfortunate inclination (fn.) towards "one methodology fits all" -- all executives and sbu´s (fn.)

Footnote:  The author was a member in 1988 of the Steering Committee, Stanford New Enterprise Forum of Stanford Business School.  The comment was made by an entrepreneur invited to make a presentation at Stanford.  The comment burned itself into the author's brain, but not, unfortunately, the name of the man who made it.  He was one of the Silicon Valley giants, but this being Stanford, after all, a regular procession (fn.) of giants came to speak there.

Occasionally, some sophisticated methodologies have been coached to a lone CEO.  Frequently a CEO, as someone with at least some university education, and frequently with several brillant degrees at that,  may decide to do some serious study and reflection on his own.  He then proceeds to put the concepts that appeal (fn.) to him into practice.  That is absolutely feasible (fn.) for some CEOs, just as a foreign language may be learned alone.

To consider the three traditional levels of strategy formation:

The First Level -- fundamental (fn.) questions

1.What business are we in (vision and mission) (fn.)?

2.Who are the customers (conservative, risk adverse (fn.), value-added producers; pioneer (fn.) end users, etc.)

2.Where do our significant marketing advantages (e.g. performance, logistics, branding) (USP fn.) lie?

4.How are we ensuring (fn.), presenting, and improving these advantages (and USP)?

The Second Level -- superimposing (fn.) a conceptual framework

The BCG Matrix
The second level of strategy formation is to consider it within a more complex framework. One well known example is the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) matrix of segmenting (fn.) companies according to relative  (fn., explain "relative") market share as "stars", "dogs", "cash cows" (fn.) and "question marks". 


Market share is, of course, not only a function of the experience curve. It also reflects the four P´s of the marketing mix.  Interestingly, these stem from a 1957 article at Harvard (fn.) Have they really been superceded by the four C´s for focusing on the customer?   (fn. original Harvard article, which was the basis for the presentation by E. Jerome McCarthy in Basic Marketing: A managerial approach, Irwin, 1960.  (The P´s are Product, Promotion, Price and Place.)  The transition to C´s was suggested by Robert Lauterborn "New Marketing Litany: four P´s passé; C-words take over", Advertising Age,  (1 Oct. 1990), p. 26.  (The C´s are Customer needs and wants, Cost to the Customer, Convenience and Communication.) Both have been popularized in various editions of Philip Kotler´s classic text, Principles of Marketing.)    Whichever you prefer, in practice both P´s and C´s play a role.

Porter´s Value Chain
Another is Porter's generic (fn.) value chain (1985). Both emphasize gaining market share to realize the advantages of the experience curve (See Chapter II of the Elephant's Coaching Toolkit for a brief introduction to the experience curve.).  That in turn implies that the firm should develop a competitive advantage by focusing on core competencies.  To compete along the industry's value curve one either strives for cost leadership, or commands a premium (fn.) price by differentiating (fn.) one's product or service.  One should avoid the middle (medium price for medium quality/service).

HERE INSERT THE PPT OF PORTER´S VALUE CHAIN, followed by a reference to Profit Pools in a footnote. 

The Third Level -- adding the intangible factors

Strategic thinking has subsequently (fn.) added a third level of complexity.  It consists of an increased emphasis on organizational dynamics (fn.) and intangible factors ("human capital") as business drivers to achieve competitive advantage. As product life cycles (fn.) become increasingly shorter there has been increased attention not merely to competing along value curves, but on paradigm (fn.) shifts, so that one is competing on an entirely new value curve.  One is creating a new market category, in the extreme case, re-defining an industry


- Creating value      
                                    from intangible (fn.) assets
- Driving growth



Transformation of the Corporate Culture  

Change the communication: 
      language          at the individual level
Change the behavior:

Change the procedures:
               rituals                        at the organizational (sbu) level             
      incentive plans

Change the environment:
         commitment               at the corporate level
INSERT PPT OF THE MODIFIED GENERIC CHAIN, and footnote it, referring to all members of the team.