Elevate Your Thinking

April 3, 2014

When you hear the word strategy, what comes to mind? For many managers, the word strategy means gigantic PowerPoint decks and overstuffed 3-ring binders collecting dust. Great strategy doesn’t come from an Excel spreadsheet or PowerPoint deck. Great strategy comes from great strategists. The word innovation is most commonly associated with a cool new technology that will change the world….

Quiznos: From Toasty to Toast

March 10, 2014

Nothing like a nice toasted sub sandwich, called a grinder by my friends on the east coast. Quiznos built a business on it. Trouble is, when a toasted sandwich is all that stands between you and the competition, your position of toasted becomes toast. As the Wall Street Journal reported, Quiznos is preparing to file for bankruptcy.   It didn’t…

Frankenstrategy Terrorizes Managers on Halloween

October 31, 2013

As the cool, white fog covers the ground on Halloween, beware the creatures lurking in the shadows of your company’s hallways. Nestled amongst the darkened offices is a single light, perhaps a candlelight, continuing to burn deep into the night. And there in that laboratory of an office, rising from the PowerPoint slides of Hell comes a creature pieced together…

Strategy Spring Training: Part 2

February 21, 2013

2. Barometer. Imagine the following: you make an appointment to see your doctor after several weeks of worsening cold and flu symptoms. The doctor finally enters the exam room and you exchange a few pleasantries. However, she doesn’t ask you any questions or take any tests. She writes a prescription, hands it to you, and leaves. You’d think this was nuts,…

Will You Be Lunch?

February 6, 2013

Business strategy is defined as the intelligent allocation of limited resources through a unique system of activities to outperform the competition in serving customers. Nestled in the middle of the definition, this idea of differentiation is perhaps the most overlooked tenet of strategy. Differentiation for competitive advantage in business has its roots in science. In 1934, Moscow University professor G….

Defender, Challenger or Spectator?

July 11, 2012

A condition is a situation with respect to circumstances. The term condition can be applied to a number of different arenas, from medicine (What is the patient’s condition?) to sports (What are the conditions of the golf course?). Before a physician prescribes a course of treatment for the patient, she will first want to understand their condition (symptoms, age, allergies,…

Pick-Up-Sticks for Strategic Thinking Tools

May 10, 2012

Pick-Up-Sticks is a game many of us played as kids. If you recall, a bundle of sticks roughly six inches long are held in a loose bunch and released on a table top, falling in random disarray. Each player then takes a turn removing a stick from the pile, with the goal of not moving or disturbing the remaining ones….

Strategic Thinking Starts At the Top…Or It Doesn’t

February 16, 2012

With a flurry of activity each day, we hope to accomplish the tasks that will enable us to reach our goals. Ideally, that flurry of activity is preceded and then interspersed with strategic thinking. Thinking strategically means carving out time to consider the current context, or situation we’re in, identifying insights that will lead to new value for customers and…

What’s Your Competitor’s Strategic Approach?

April 8, 2011

As more large public companies such as Borders and Blockbuster file for bankruptcy, it’s apparent that Chinese general and philosopher Sun Tzu’s words nearly 3,000 years ago still haven’t sunk in: If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles. According to research by Paul Carroll and Chunka Mui, the number one…