The Asking Leader News

What is Strategy?

I was asked this question last week by Matt Tice. The question stopped me in my tracks.

For the sake of this discussion, imagine you are the manufacturer of matches. Imagine that the match business is dying as disposable lighters become cheap and durable. Then people started to give up smoking. Simply enough, the external demand for your product is washing over you like a wave of despair. What do you do?

As someone who talks to business leaders and boards about strategy every day, I would have thought I would have had a succinct answer to Matt’s question – with a snazzy little acronym to make remembering it even easier.

Matt says strategy is an ‘outside to in perspective’. He says you must look at your own company from the outside to be able to clearly see the strategic choices.

That means you must pick as many different points of view from which you look at your company.

From the discipline of the Asking Leader, what questions would we ask ourselves to be able to look at our company from the outside to in? Matt suggests we could consider questions like these:

1.    Trends.

a.     What are the longer-term trends we should see?

b.    What changes have come, or are coming that we should be aware of?

 i.    Everyone thinks about disruption. Often there are sneaking trends that are not as blatant.

2.    Competitors

a.     How stable is the competitive environment?

b.    When our competitors look at us, what do they see?

c.     When we look at them, what do we see?

d.    What are their strengths/core competencies?

3.    Customers

a.     What is changing about our customers?

b.    How are their needs changing?

c.     When they look at us, what do they see?

4.    Our Business Model

a.     How resilient are we to changing circumstances beyond our control?

b.    What are our strengths/core competencies?

c.     What are we in the business of? What else could we be in the business of?

What questions would you like to ask yourselves so that you can look at your business from the outside to in? As the matchmaker, what questions would you ask of your business?

Then, what mindset would you need to be in to be able to ask these questions without filters? How would you ask those questions without limiting your frame of thinking to the normal parameters? How would you give yourselves permission to be a little crazy and think on a wider spectrum?

In your mind, you are a still a matchmaker – and a good one. With an ‘outside to in’ mindset, you also make cardboard boxes to put matches in and your print on the boxes. Perhaps you have core competencies that suit another market. What could you do with that thought?

Look up The Hanna Group to see what their product offering is now. They still are still matchmakers, and they are way more. The flooding wave of disruption washed by this company as they adapted with a clear strategy.

  • What are the changes coming for your business?
  • What are your competitors seeing and doing?
  • How resilient is your business model?

Next time I will talk about the planning phase of strategy. The time after that, I will talk about execution of strategy.

Do you want to find out more? Contact me here on LinkedIn or go to the website Asking Leader

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