Simple Practicalities


People want practical stuff. Self-help books are consistently amongst the best-selling non-fiction texts in the world. The fact that around half of their content is either useless - or worse - seems to bother few.

With strategy, the readership is driven to "how to" material. By this I mean guides on, for example, "how to pick a niche market and differentiate for the long-term". The trick is offering "middling complexity". Too simple a guide - e.g. pick an ambitious SMART vision and commit to it - and readers feel it's a teensy bit patronising. Or just pat. Tell them to perform a multi-level strategic audit, align distinctive resources to opportunities and track progress over time via five to eight incisive performance metrics, and they feel lost. But offer guidance somewhere in the middle and all's well. Be non-obvious but still strongly guided. Be practical but appeal to just a hint of theory. Show how to turn the handle to extrude the answer but make the sure the cogs need a bit of case-specific tinkering.

This raises the question of what kind of guidance works best for readers of strategic management. Perhaps the Blue Ocean Strategy material is the best guide. Yes, you can say it's old wine in new bottles (i.e. firms should find what few differentiators most leverage value and so re-align). But these new wine bottles are readily available in your local supermarket at a price you like. Easy drinking. What else works? I'd say there are around 3-10 models of strategy that both synthesize most of the analyses-that-matter, and lead towards practical guidance. There are not super-simple to use but then neither are they nightmarish. More on this later.


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