Revolutionary times calls for the need to revolutionise your strategy design process. If you are using the same old conventional ways of developing strategies and KPIs then you are missing a lot of points in your process. Most leaders develop their functional strategies working back from the company’s commercial goals. They answer the challenge of how their function will deliver on the plan by creating singular, separated strategies and actions plan which at best are SMART and at worst, vague and unfocused. Build in multiples perspectives and include dimensions and data that would normally be ignored. Not only does this create all sorts of opportunities but expands the number and quality of external touchpoints with peers, customers, and other stakeholders.
The first and second perspectives are you and your immediate dynamics. It is the conventional view on strategy creation. How you do business with your customer, where you are transacting a product or offering and meeting the obligations set in your contract. Your sales strategy is a typical first level strategy. Push-strategies are first level as are most retail and off-the-shelf sales methods. It’s the least complex and the least profitable. It’s simple, direct and easily communicated but offers little differentiation and value for the customer. This is how most businesses conduct their strategic management.
Flipping your standing point to your customers’ place puts you into the third perspective. Demographics alone don’t do this but understanding their triggers, values and lifestyle needs does. A day in the life of your customer will give you more valuable information that you ever thought possible. Yet, most businesses never concern them with that and they continue to push out their first perspective approach to see what sticks. It takes more effort to walk in your customers’ shoes and requires more personalised strategies that will satisfy them. However, you will develop better engagement and loyalty, which they will be happier with compared to the sales approach. This second perspective assumes that the customer knows what they want which is great for certain businesses and customer but not for all. It’s still restrictive and requires the user or consumer to recognise their future needs. It’s a more organic approach to business development and can be very successful if the company is attentive to their customers’ needs.
The key to understanding perspectives is in accepting a multi-level approach is necessary. You need to be doing all of them at the same time to benefit from all angles. Often businesses and people will take the easy path and just focus on doing one angle. It easy to imagine a successful hair salon cutting customers hair while selling salon-only retail products, yet most struggle to do this well.
The fourth perspective is a challenge as it requires a collaborative approach and most senior executive and business owners believe that their market is a battleground to push and pull on. This position acknowledges and respects the other business who are serving the market. When a business is oriented to it’s authentic and unique qualities then it will know when a customer buys from them and when a customer chooses another business. They will understand the context behind the buying choice and be able to accommodate and leverage that to create positive results that grow the market by giving the customer more choice in a specific area of expertise. When collaborating or coordinating with other companies, it’s not an either/or but an us-and-them approach. This is market specific and requires a greater breadth and complexity of thinking.
Finally, in this context, the fifth perspective is the most invisible. It requires the ability to think about the market potential and impact of that and other markets. It’s the most valuable position any senior executive can have. This is a meta position on every dynamic aspect from the business itself, to the customer, the competitors and related industries and how they are going about their businesses. The value of this meta position is that it will identify, with genuine clarity, conventional practices that will soon become defunct in business and industries. From this position, you can use the past to forecast the present and pace the future then select strategies which actually revolutionise and stand the test of time with regards to technology and resource investment. This is the approach of top technology companies like Google and Amazon.
Ditch the trial and error first and second position and invest the effort in moving your strategies into a complex multi-level level approach. Change your traditional linear ways of seeing your career, business and industry and start pacing your future while delivering on the demands required in the now. While not everything will happen according to plan but fragments will materialise and fall into positional and you will know exactly when and how it is happening.