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What is Strategy?
Thinking like a Strategist
September 2012 Bangalore, India
Amit Kapoor
me@amitkaps.com
1
2
Content
• Have a dialogue on strategy
• Use a case study – “Growing for Broke”
• Discuss heuristics for strategic thinking
3
Start with this question…
Write down first three words that
come to you mind when you hear
the word ‘Strategy’
4
… followed by this question…
Describe in a line or two, in your own
words – ‘What is Strategy?’
5
… and finally this question
What is the one thing you would like to
know (more) about Strategy?
6
What is Strategy?
System
Story
Design
Subtlety
Scene
Gimmick
Learning
Adapt
Quick
Respond
Culture
Action
Setup
Procedure
Policy
Tactics
Process
Excellence
Execution
Operational
Quality
People
Approach
Blueprint
Method
Plan
Planning
Strategic
Competitive
Industry
Exploit
High Ground
Profit
Cost
Focus
Program
Present
Core
Central
Competence
Capabilities
Focus
Maneuvering
7
Strategy is a young field
1% 1%
7%
6% 6%
10%
21%
22%
20%
1922 1932 1942 1952 1962 1972 1982 1992 2002
Strategy /Strategic Citation in Harvard Business Review [Title & Abstract]
(% of total articles, 10 year period, starting year)
8
Strategy definition
Strategy [ˈstratəәjē ]
•  the art of planning and directing overall military operations and
movements in a war or battle. Often contrasted with tactics
•  a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall
aim: time to develop a coherent economic strategy | shifts in
marketing strategy.
Via Latin from Greek:
•  from ‘stratēgia’ : generalship
•  from ‘stratēgos’ : be a general
9
Basic tension in Strategy
Advantage is Transient Corporate identity is slow
to change
“… although the stickiness of
company’s identity is typically
regarded as weakness, it’s also a
great source of strength”
Art Kleiner, The Right to Win
“Now, here, you see, it takes all
the running you can do, to keep in
the same place” said the Red
Queen
Lewis Caroll, Alice in Wonderland
10
Strategy Map
featuresstrategy&competition
Source: Walter Kiechel, The Lords of Strategy; Art Kleiner, The Age of Heretics; Henry Mintzberg, Bruce Ahlstrand, and Joseph Lampel, Strategy Safari
Henry Mintzberg
The Rise and Fall of
Strategic Planning
1994
Chris Zook
Profit from the Core
2001
Gary Hamel &
C.K. Prahalad
Competing for the Future
1994
Michael Porter
Competitive Strategy
1980
Bruce Henderson
Essays
1966
W. Chan Kim &
Renée Mauborgne
Blue Ocean Strategy
2005
Kenneth Andrews
The Concept of
Corporate Strategy
1971
William Abernathy
& Robert Hayes
“Managing Our Way to
Economic Decline”
1980
Tom Peters &
Robert Waterman
In Search of Excellence
1982
ADAPTATION
Act quickly and creatively
in response to events
(organizational learning)
POSITION
Exploit the high ground: create
and hold a distinctive position
(market-back strategy)
EXECUTION
Align people and processes
for operational excellence
(the quality movement)
CONCENTRATION
Focus on your current
core business
(private equity)
Michael Hammer
& James Champy
Reengineering the Corporation
1993
W. Edwards Deming
Out of the Crisis
1986
Ram Charan &
Larry Bossidy
Execution
2002
MANY FEW
FUTURE
PRESENT
markets as defined by external forces); Concentration (winners make
the most of current core strengths and businesses); Execution (winners
gain advantage through operational excellence); and Adaptation
(winners develop an overall direction through experimentation and
rapid change). From the 1960s to today, many companies have
bounced from one quadrant to another.
The grid itself reflects views of the best approach for developing
business strategy. The X-axis represents the point of view on
are those who favor top-down formulation (strategy is developed by
the few, the designated expert planners and senior executives, while
the rest of the enterprise is dedicated to execution).
The Y-axis depicts time orientation: the degree to which strategy
is seen as present- or future-oriented. At the top are those who favor
moving toward a long-term destination that may be different from the
company’s current position. At the bottom are those who favor letting
the company’s strategic direction emerge from its current state.
11
What defines a Strategic Problem?
Strategic
Problem
Ill-Defined and
Unique
Too Much or Too
Little Data
Limited Time and
Resources
Conflicting
Stakeholder Views
Several Critical
Unknowns
Cross - Functional
Complexity
12
One word strategy
Strategy is a “Hypothesis”
13
Kernel of a Strategy
Guiding
Policy
the overall
approach
chosen to
overcome the
obstacles
Good
Diagnosis
which
defines the
nature of the
challenge
Coherent
Actions
the set of co-
ordinated
actions and
resource
allocation
14
Thinking like a Strategist
Generating
the Hypotheses
Making
the Case
o  Develop the problem
definition
o  Concretize the
scope
o  Map the issues, and
deliverable
o  Develop the issue tree
o  Generate the
hypotheses
o  Develop the data
matrix
o  Refine hypotheses (as
required)
o  Collect data and
conduct analysis
o  Synthesize finding and
conclusions
o  Develop
recommendations
o  Develop message
and storyboard
o  Write and review
the output
Testing
the Hypotheses
2 31 4Defining
the Question
?
The Strategic Question
•  Define the fundamental question that needs to be
answered
•  Focus on the big picture and not the details
•  Explore the gap between what the company has
and what the company wants
•  Understand how it fits with what else the company is
trying to achieve
1. Defining the Question
15
Issues and Deliverables
•  What issues must you investigate to answer the
fundamental question?
•  What is the type of output will be produced from this
investigation?
•  What deliverables are expected? Will that address
the company’s requirement?
•  What time and resources would be required to
accomplish this?
1. Defining the Question
16
Develop Issue Tree
Strategic
Question
Issue 1
Issue 2
Issue 3
Sub Issue 2.1
Sub Issue 2.2
Hypothesis
2.2.1
Hypothesis
2.2.2
Sub Issue 2.3
2. Generating the Hypotheses
17
Issues vs. Hypotheses
What is an Issue?
•  Denotes a major piece of
the problem
•  Pointed to company
concerns (“So what?”)
•  Limited in number
•  Similar in size
•  Will not “fall”
•  Phrased as a question
•  Amenable to closure
What is a Hypothesis?
•  Phrased as statement to
prove or disprove
•  Is an 'hunch' or an educated
guess
•  Nested under an issue
•  Provides tentative answer to
issue question
•  Provides context for or
guides information gathering
2. Generating the Hypotheses
18
Case Study: Issue Tree
Strategic Question Issues
What should be Paragon
Tools’ growth strategy?
How will the product and services ecosystem look
in the machine tool ecosystem in the next 10
years?
What is the best “Way-to-Play” for Paragon Tools
in the machine tool ecosystem?
How can Paragon Tools leverage its existing
capability system developed to get the “right to
win” in this ecosystem?
2. Generating the Hypotheses
19
Case Study: Hypotheses
Issue Sub-Issues Hypotheses
How will the
product and
services
ecosystem
look in the
machine tool
ecosystem in
the next 10
years?
How will the
service
ecosystem
emerge in the
next 10 years?
Which
platorms?
Which formats?
H1: Market consolidate
around 3 major platforms – for
services
H2: Customers will shift from
buying tools to complete
lifecycle packages
... ....
2. Generating the
Hypotheses
20
Types of Hypothesis
Propositional
e.g. market consolidate
around three platforms – for
services
•  If accepted becomes
finding
•  Leaves "so what"
•  Simple to test, more
complex to interpret
•  Seeks "predictive" data
Diagnostic
e.g. customers will shift from
buying tools to complete
lifecycle packages
•  If accepted becomes
conclusion
•  Answers "so what"
•  Simple to interpret if data fits,
more complex to test
•  Seeks "cause and effect"
data
2. Generating the Hypotheses
21
Develop Good Hypothesis
•  Connect the Dots - General / specific exp
•  Do your Homework - Lit search, web search, books /
journals
•  Engage with People - Planning meetings, clients,
colleagues
•  Stand on the Shoulder of Giants - Experts, practice guides,
other assignments
•  Gather Preliminary Data - Industry analysis, probing
questions
•  Think Hard about it!
2. Generating the Hypotheses
22
•  Think on two key dimensions
o  Method of enquiry: Interview/Focus Group, Research
and Surveys, Observations
o  Source of data: Internal, Client, Competition /
Customers, Industry / Government
•  Be cost conscious in selection of method of enquiry
•  Assess reliability and conduct triangulation
•  Organize and document rigorously
Building the Data Matrix
3. Testing the Hypotheses
23
Synthesizing the Facts
Facts 1
Fact 2
Fact 3
Finding 1
Finding 2
Conclusion 1
Conclusion 2
Finding 3Fact 4
Fact 5
Recommendation 1
Recommendation 2
Recommendation 3
Recommendation 4
3. Testing the Hypotheses
24
Developing Recommendation
•  Generate alternatives, evaluate, screen and select: Complete
the logic tree
•  Specify and describe actions, results and benefits
•  Take account of existing conditions, barriers and resources
•  Cover the assignment topics and outputs
•  Can be tracked back to address the root cause findings
3. Testing the Hypotheses
25
Structuring the Story
Argument First Action First
What's wrong
What's causing It
Here's what you should do
This is how
You must change
Here's what you should do
This is how
Change
Change
Add the why's
4. Making the Case
26
•  Objective: Build relationship, share information,
solve problem, take decision
•  Audience: Who, characteristics as individual /
group, receptivity, expectation, culture
•  Purpose: Telling, selling, conferring, collaborating
•  Story: Content, emphasis, style
•  Medium: Visual (letter, report, text, video) or Oral
(presentation, meeting, one-to-one)
Doing the Communication
4. Making the Case
27
Heuristics for Daily Problem Solving
•  Structure your thinking
•  Build your fact base
•  Develop an initial hypothesis
•  Solve the right problem
•  Don't boil the ocean
•  Produce an output daily
•  Synthesize every day (Elevator Speech)
•  Focus on the change
28
Wrap Up
29
•  Strategy is a hypothesis
•  Strategy consists of a good diagnosis, guiding policy
and coherent action
•  Use heuristic for daily practice and play
Amit Kapoor
September 2012

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What is Strategy - Thinking like a Strategist

  • 1. What is Strategy? Thinking like a Strategist September 2012 Bangalore, India Amit Kapoor me@amitkaps.com
  • 2. 1
  • 3. 2 Content • Have a dialogue on strategy • Use a case study – “Growing for Broke” • Discuss heuristics for strategic thinking
  • 4. 3 Start with this question… Write down first three words that come to you mind when you hear the word ‘Strategy’
  • 5. 4 … followed by this question… Describe in a line or two, in your own words – ‘What is Strategy?’
  • 6. 5 … and finally this question What is the one thing you would like to know (more) about Strategy?
  • 8. 7 Strategy is a young field 1% 1% 7% 6% 6% 10% 21% 22% 20% 1922 1932 1942 1952 1962 1972 1982 1992 2002 Strategy /Strategic Citation in Harvard Business Review [Title & Abstract] (% of total articles, 10 year period, starting year)
  • 9. 8 Strategy definition Strategy [ˈstratəәjē ] •  the art of planning and directing overall military operations and movements in a war or battle. Often contrasted with tactics •  a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim: time to develop a coherent economic strategy | shifts in marketing strategy. Via Latin from Greek: •  from ‘stratēgia’ : generalship •  from ‘stratēgos’ : be a general
  • 10. 9 Basic tension in Strategy Advantage is Transient Corporate identity is slow to change “… although the stickiness of company’s identity is typically regarded as weakness, it’s also a great source of strength” Art Kleiner, The Right to Win “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place” said the Red Queen Lewis Caroll, Alice in Wonderland
  • 11. 10 Strategy Map featuresstrategy&competition Source: Walter Kiechel, The Lords of Strategy; Art Kleiner, The Age of Heretics; Henry Mintzberg, Bruce Ahlstrand, and Joseph Lampel, Strategy Safari Henry Mintzberg The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning 1994 Chris Zook Profit from the Core 2001 Gary Hamel & C.K. Prahalad Competing for the Future 1994 Michael Porter Competitive Strategy 1980 Bruce Henderson Essays 1966 W. Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne Blue Ocean Strategy 2005 Kenneth Andrews The Concept of Corporate Strategy 1971 William Abernathy & Robert Hayes “Managing Our Way to Economic Decline” 1980 Tom Peters & Robert Waterman In Search of Excellence 1982 ADAPTATION Act quickly and creatively in response to events (organizational learning) POSITION Exploit the high ground: create and hold a distinctive position (market-back strategy) EXECUTION Align people and processes for operational excellence (the quality movement) CONCENTRATION Focus on your current core business (private equity) Michael Hammer & James Champy Reengineering the Corporation 1993 W. Edwards Deming Out of the Crisis 1986 Ram Charan & Larry Bossidy Execution 2002 MANY FEW FUTURE PRESENT markets as defined by external forces); Concentration (winners make the most of current core strengths and businesses); Execution (winners gain advantage through operational excellence); and Adaptation (winners develop an overall direction through experimentation and rapid change). From the 1960s to today, many companies have bounced from one quadrant to another. The grid itself reflects views of the best approach for developing business strategy. The X-axis represents the point of view on are those who favor top-down formulation (strategy is developed by the few, the designated expert planners and senior executives, while the rest of the enterprise is dedicated to execution). The Y-axis depicts time orientation: the degree to which strategy is seen as present- or future-oriented. At the top are those who favor moving toward a long-term destination that may be different from the company’s current position. At the bottom are those who favor letting the company’s strategic direction emerge from its current state.
  • 12. 11 What defines a Strategic Problem? Strategic Problem Ill-Defined and Unique Too Much or Too Little Data Limited Time and Resources Conflicting Stakeholder Views Several Critical Unknowns Cross - Functional Complexity
  • 13. 12 One word strategy Strategy is a “Hypothesis”
  • 14. 13 Kernel of a Strategy Guiding Policy the overall approach chosen to overcome the obstacles Good Diagnosis which defines the nature of the challenge Coherent Actions the set of co- ordinated actions and resource allocation
  • 15. 14 Thinking like a Strategist Generating the Hypotheses Making the Case o  Develop the problem definition o  Concretize the scope o  Map the issues, and deliverable o  Develop the issue tree o  Generate the hypotheses o  Develop the data matrix o  Refine hypotheses (as required) o  Collect data and conduct analysis o  Synthesize finding and conclusions o  Develop recommendations o  Develop message and storyboard o  Write and review the output Testing the Hypotheses 2 31 4Defining the Question ?
  • 16. The Strategic Question •  Define the fundamental question that needs to be answered •  Focus on the big picture and not the details •  Explore the gap between what the company has and what the company wants •  Understand how it fits with what else the company is trying to achieve 1. Defining the Question 15
  • 17. Issues and Deliverables •  What issues must you investigate to answer the fundamental question? •  What is the type of output will be produced from this investigation? •  What deliverables are expected? Will that address the company’s requirement? •  What time and resources would be required to accomplish this? 1. Defining the Question 16
  • 18. Develop Issue Tree Strategic Question Issue 1 Issue 2 Issue 3 Sub Issue 2.1 Sub Issue 2.2 Hypothesis 2.2.1 Hypothesis 2.2.2 Sub Issue 2.3 2. Generating the Hypotheses 17
  • 19. Issues vs. Hypotheses What is an Issue? •  Denotes a major piece of the problem •  Pointed to company concerns (“So what?”) •  Limited in number •  Similar in size •  Will not “fall” •  Phrased as a question •  Amenable to closure What is a Hypothesis? •  Phrased as statement to prove or disprove •  Is an 'hunch' or an educated guess •  Nested under an issue •  Provides tentative answer to issue question •  Provides context for or guides information gathering 2. Generating the Hypotheses 18
  • 20. Case Study: Issue Tree Strategic Question Issues What should be Paragon Tools’ growth strategy? How will the product and services ecosystem look in the machine tool ecosystem in the next 10 years? What is the best “Way-to-Play” for Paragon Tools in the machine tool ecosystem? How can Paragon Tools leverage its existing capability system developed to get the “right to win” in this ecosystem? 2. Generating the Hypotheses 19
  • 21. Case Study: Hypotheses Issue Sub-Issues Hypotheses How will the product and services ecosystem look in the machine tool ecosystem in the next 10 years? How will the service ecosystem emerge in the next 10 years? Which platorms? Which formats? H1: Market consolidate around 3 major platforms – for services H2: Customers will shift from buying tools to complete lifecycle packages ... .... 2. Generating the Hypotheses 20
  • 22. Types of Hypothesis Propositional e.g. market consolidate around three platforms – for services •  If accepted becomes finding •  Leaves "so what" •  Simple to test, more complex to interpret •  Seeks "predictive" data Diagnostic e.g. customers will shift from buying tools to complete lifecycle packages •  If accepted becomes conclusion •  Answers "so what" •  Simple to interpret if data fits, more complex to test •  Seeks "cause and effect" data 2. Generating the Hypotheses 21
  • 23. Develop Good Hypothesis •  Connect the Dots - General / specific exp •  Do your Homework - Lit search, web search, books / journals •  Engage with People - Planning meetings, clients, colleagues •  Stand on the Shoulder of Giants - Experts, practice guides, other assignments •  Gather Preliminary Data - Industry analysis, probing questions •  Think Hard about it! 2. Generating the Hypotheses 22
  • 24. •  Think on two key dimensions o  Method of enquiry: Interview/Focus Group, Research and Surveys, Observations o  Source of data: Internal, Client, Competition / Customers, Industry / Government •  Be cost conscious in selection of method of enquiry •  Assess reliability and conduct triangulation •  Organize and document rigorously Building the Data Matrix 3. Testing the Hypotheses 23
  • 25. Synthesizing the Facts Facts 1 Fact 2 Fact 3 Finding 1 Finding 2 Conclusion 1 Conclusion 2 Finding 3Fact 4 Fact 5 Recommendation 1 Recommendation 2 Recommendation 3 Recommendation 4 3. Testing the Hypotheses 24
  • 26. Developing Recommendation •  Generate alternatives, evaluate, screen and select: Complete the logic tree •  Specify and describe actions, results and benefits •  Take account of existing conditions, barriers and resources •  Cover the assignment topics and outputs •  Can be tracked back to address the root cause findings 3. Testing the Hypotheses 25
  • 27. Structuring the Story Argument First Action First What's wrong What's causing It Here's what you should do This is how You must change Here's what you should do This is how Change Change Add the why's 4. Making the Case 26
  • 28. •  Objective: Build relationship, share information, solve problem, take decision •  Audience: Who, characteristics as individual / group, receptivity, expectation, culture •  Purpose: Telling, selling, conferring, collaborating •  Story: Content, emphasis, style •  Medium: Visual (letter, report, text, video) or Oral (presentation, meeting, one-to-one) Doing the Communication 4. Making the Case 27
  • 29. Heuristics for Daily Problem Solving •  Structure your thinking •  Build your fact base •  Develop an initial hypothesis •  Solve the right problem •  Don't boil the ocean •  Produce an output daily •  Synthesize every day (Elevator Speech) •  Focus on the change 28
  • 30. Wrap Up 29 •  Strategy is a hypothesis •  Strategy consists of a good diagnosis, guiding policy and coherent action •  Use heuristic for daily practice and play Amit Kapoor September 2012