It’s true that great strength can come from within.  After all, it’s your business, your values, vision and mission, but clarity of purpose is not the sole predictor of market leadership.

Lasting impact also comes from a company’s approach to the creation of strategy. Fully opening up to the outside world and opening up within a company gives you the best chance of achieving great things.  Not a top down ‘going through the motions’ exercise, but a shared experience visible as positioning the whole company for the future.

The chart below captures three strategy traps and one approach which helps a business fulfil its potential.


‘Strategy Traps’ © SPURR Ltd

A great experience internally focused and an open ritualistic approach are where too many businesses with potential find themselves – ‘frustrated’ and ‘disappointed’; achieving good things but not achieving great things.  Unfortunately, the internal ritual is where the majority of businesses find themselves – ‘stuck’; existing but little more.

To ‘achieve great things’ in your market requires an outside-in experience, one which will bring the following benefits to your company:

  1. Focusing on what matters – outside-in means that the business starts and ends a strategic process from the perspective that is its reason for being – the customer. It is their needs and problems that the product/service is addressing and these requirements are the critical success factors (CSFs) which should unify all the department plans.
  2. Managing the politics – a company leading a strategy exercise with the ritual department SWOT analysis will inevitably fall foul of organisational politics. Too often this simply ‘defends’ the status quo.  If you begin by looking at the current customer CSFs, and gain the teams’ consensus on what they are, people relax and make more productive contributions.
  3. Avoiding unconscious bias – even if there are no organisation politics at work, a process led by an internal view first inevitably is prejudiced by past experience. These blind-spots will mean opportunities missed or threats overlooked.
  4. Creating a value network – opening up to the rest of the market (suppliers, channels, substitutes) means that you can create a genuine value chain with potential partners rather than see relationships as contract negotiations. Meetings and plans based on how partners help you deliver the customer’s CSFs, helps build genuine interest, trust and long-term collaboration.
  5. Motivating the team – most people in a business like to feel they are contributing to serving the customer. Wider and deeper participation in strategy, one which is clearly linked to what the customer really wants you to do, means that not only do your team believe the strategic direction, they will actually want to implement it!

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