Developing Strategy

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We Must Rescue ‘Win-Win’ From Its Buzzword Status

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Companies tend to compete not as individual entities, but as members of networks — which makes collaboration a strategic necessity, not merely a tactical choice. But while many executives say they want win-win solutions, in reality, they usually seek victories that don’t excessively annoy their counterparts. In other words, “win/no-lose” is a more accurate description.

What Sets Breakthrough Strategies Apart

Composing valuable strategies requires seeing the world in new and unique ways. It requires asking novel questions that prompt fresh insight. Even the most sophisticated, deep learning-enhanced computers or algorithms simply cannot generate such an outlook. Innovative strategies depend more on novel, well-reasoned theories than on well-crunched numbers.

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Surviving in an Increasingly Digital Ecosystem

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Companies today will have to reinvent themselves to survive, and every large and ambitious company should be trying to figure out how to become a destination for its customers. Consumers are voting with their mobile devices and choosing from a handful of dominant “ecosystem drivers”— businesses such as Amazon and WeChat, which become destinations for their customers’ needs by offering complementary or sometimes competing services — for each domain in their lives.

How to Develop Strategy for Execution

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When developing strategy for execution, managers often want to start by setting their strategic priorities, but that’s a mistake. Management teams should start by identifying the corporate vision and critical vulnerabilities — both of which help clarify and shape priorities.

Four Logics of Corporate Strategy

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Organizations often struggle with corporate strategy because executives lack clarity on how the parts of the corporation fit together. Without a shared understanding of the relationships between headquarters and business units, executives risk talking past one another when discussing strategy.

Don’t Get Caught in the Middle

There was once a time when middlemen were indispensable. Intermediaries facilitated transactions between makers and buyers; they closed the gaps between disconnected entities that required one another for survival; and, within organizations, they interpreted high-level corporate strategy and connected it to front-line execution. But one by one, such intermediaries are being made obsolete by technology.

Focusing on What 90% of Businesses Do Now Is a Big Mistake

It’s not smart to base any part of your strategy on what you see in the rear-view mirror — and that’s particularly true when you develop strategies for navigating modern, thorny environmental and social challenges. The norms and expectations about how companies manage sustainability issues are shifting fast: Just six years ago, only 20% of the S&P 500 companies produced sustainability reports, while by 2016, 82% did. Change is coming to business — and executives need to adjust.

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Your Company Doesn’t Need a Digital Strategy

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As sexy as it is to speculate about new technologies such as AI, robots, and the internet of things, the focus on technology can steer the conversation in a dangerous direction. Because when it comes to digital transformation, digital is not the answer. Transformation is. In various industries, including banking, paint, and shipbuilding, digital leaders are finding that technology’s value comes from doing business differently because technology makes it possible.

Improving Your Digital Intelligence

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A study of 250 global companies found that a company’s digital intelligence is informed by four dimensions: strategy, culture, organization, and capabilities. Within these dimensions, the research identified 18 management practices that contribute the most to digital leaders’ financial and market success — and offer a road map for companies seeking to expand their digital know-how.

AI in the Boardroom: The Next Realm of Corporate Governance

Business has become too complex for boards and CEOs to make good decisions without intelligent systems. Just as artificial intelligence helps doctors use patient data to make better diagnoses and create individualized medical solutions, AI can help business leaders know more precisely which strategy and investments will provide exponential growth and value in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

Don’t Confuse Digital With Digitization

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“Becoming digital” is a totally different exercise from digitizing. Digitization involves standardizing business processes and is an important enabler of digital, but digitization on its own won’t make a business a digital company. Instead, a digital transformation involves rethinking a company’s value proposition. To become digital and pursue a digital vision, companies must embrace information-enriched customer solutions delivered as a seamless, personalized customer experience.

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Turning Strategy Into Results

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Businesses develop strategies to address complex, multi-layered business environments and challenges — but to execute a strategy in a meaningful way, it must produce a set of specific priorities focused on achieving clear goals. Rather than trying to boil the strategy down to a pithy statement, executives will get better results if they develop a small set of actions that everyone gets behind.

Which Rules Are Worth Breaking?

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Creating innovative products and services that disrupt the status quo requires creativity, and creativity involves thinking differently about constraints. But too much of a “the rules don’t apply to us” attitude can lead to ethical crises. That’s what’s happened at Uber, where a string of controversies led to a mass exodus of executives, including the company’s president and CEO. Organizations intent on innovating need to understand ahead of time the consequences of breaking certain rules.

Using Scenario Planning to Reshape Strategy

Rather than trying to predict the future, organizations need to strengthen their abilities to cope with uncertainty. A new approach to scenario planning can help companies reframe their long-term strategies by developing several plausible scenarios.

Building a Winning Business Model Portfolio

Many companies today are operating several business models at once. But despite the potential that business model diversification has for generating growth and profit, executives need to carefully assess the strategic contributions of each element of their business model portfolio.

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