In Strategy

Overview of corporate strategy services

It’s common knowledge that planning for the future tends to create more successful business outcomes than simply hoping for good results. The standard approach is for a manager to write a document that has a fancy name, gets referenced for a little while, then forgotten about in any meaningful way until the next planning cycle.

Our approach to corporate strategy development is designed to build defensible competitive advantage using the company’s assets that align with the founder’s vision. The resulting business model should then drive the functional and cross-functional strategies and goal setting (which in turn should drive employee job functions, etc).

At the end of this process, your business will be more competitive and resilient to challenge in your key markets and product groups.

Key questions for corporate strategy analysis

What business am I really in?

This question lies at the heart of all competitive advantage analyses. If you don’t understand why people give your company money in exchange for goods or services, then you are likely to be overtaken by competitors.

Senior managers not only set the vision for a company and manage corporate results, but also need to be somewhat philosophical towards their businesses – thinking, even daydreaming about the business, is a good thing!

Ask yourself, would Borders or Blockbuster still be viable companies if their management teams had really deeply asked what they were selling to their customers, rather than assuming that they knew…until it was too late.

How can defensible competitive advantage be built in my industry?

Answering this question is the most fun you can have in corporate strategy. This exercise should begin as an unstructured adventure in imagining what could be. If you begin with what is and only consider minor adjustments to your current operations, then you’re likely managing the process of your company’s eventual extinction (harsh, but true). A long-lasting corporate strategy may have near-term incremental actions that support existing conditions while allocating resources towards longer-term competitive restructurings. They don’t have to be mutually exclusive, though most companies tend to do one or the other.

How best can I position myself to take advantage of future trends?

If you cannot remember the last time your company looked at how best to serve aging populations in developed markets or youth populations in emerging markets, or how the internet of things could remake your business, then you should make time for exactly these types of strategy-level questions that have the potential to up-end your business – potentially putting you out of business.

Typical corporate strategy engagements

Corporate planning

Daedalus Advisory Services’ corporate planning efforts recognize that companies are collections of people, systems, clients and supply chains that are supposed to work together seamlessly, but rarely do.

Our team’s experience working in countries across the world with different types of businesses in different industries and with a whole variety of corporate challenges have given us unique perspectives on when to worry and when not to.

We work with your senior team and associated stakeholders to think through issues that are relevant to your business, particularly those important to build a company that can withstand competitive pressures into the foreseeable future.

While these plans can be at the company or business unit level, an emerging trend is to hold product-related plans (especially for technology companies).

New venture planning

Planning a new business is full of uncertainties, and many of the traditional top-down corporate planning tools are not appropriate for many types of new ventures. A 100+ page business plan for an early stage company is next to useless, though a shorter document that focused on the keys to success or failure may be very effective for concentrating investor and founder energy where it is most needed.

Daedalus’ new venture planning team works with project sponsors, real estate developers, founders and entrepreneurs to understand the options available to them, then to build iterative tests to understand which have market traction and which are likely to waste time and money.

City or large area plans

Governments and project sponsors for large area developments have a different set of questions than do most businesses, but their aims are more similar than many people suppose.

The Daedalus city planning team has worked with national, sub-national, city level governments as well as quasi-state entities in locations as varied as Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia, China, India and the United States. Our experts are sensitive to the pressures that elected and unelected officials face when planning for the future under regulated conditions and limited resources.

Our approach, however, remains focused on helping our government clients to identify and refine their competitive advantages based on their existing assets. We often build industrial development and linkage plans into our work to further support sustainable economic development.

Corporate strategy lessons learned

Having a strategic plan is not enough for success

One of the main reason businesses and governments ignore the results of their strategic planning efforts is that there is an unspoken assumption that the strategy doesn’t matter to success. In a sense, they are right: the plan does not create success. Instead, it creates a common view of the future and the path to get there that should be actively re-considered and modified as times change. The plan should force painful conversations about focus, control, resource allocations and staff management.

EVEN THE BEST PLANNED STRATEGIES HAVE INTERNAL OPPOSITION & DOUBTERS

The best plans include both reality and vision

Crafting a good plan means working towards the vision of what you want, given what you have now and what you expect to have and do in the future. Far too many strategic plans are too focused on either the company’s current or future state. One reason for this fact is that there is no clear pattern for balancing the two parts of the plan as they are different for each company.

BALANCE YOUR STRATEGY’S FOCUS ON CURRENT AND FUTURE STATES

Painting by numbers generally results in worthless, generic, jargon-heavy papers

As consultants, we know and hate jargon. It’s an unfortunate disease among management consultants that neologisms and clichés are used liberally in documents that should be half as long.

We won’t kick our fellow consultants too hard, but do find that strategic reports are best when tightly focused on key issues needed for long-term growth. This focus can include industry tools, such as Five Forces or PEST Analysis, but even those are not required. Sometimes the most powerful strategic plan is a simple application of logic to data.

KEEP YOUR STRATEGIC PLAN AS SIMPLE AS NECESSARY FOR COMPETITIVE GROWTH

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