Business Strategy

The Power of the Right Business Strategy

Highlights by David Willden

Our passion is to learn and share important strategy lessons. While a single blueprint for strategy success does not exist, you can gain great insight by reviewing cases and finding patterns and themes of what works and what does not.

What is a Business Strategy?  

A business strategy is the “how” a business intends to achieve their desired outcomes. The right strategy helped Apple, Google, Southwest Airlines, Amazon and others to become the most admired companies. The wrong strategies have put countless large and small companies “out of business.” Doing the due diligence needed to find and implement the right business strategy is vital in today’s growing competitive world.

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Discovering the Right Strategy

While a single blueprint for strategy success does not exist, you can gain great insight by reviewing cases and finding patterns and themes of what works and what does not. Keys to finding the right answer is to ask the right questions, and to identify patterns, connections and themes. Start by asking the question “how.” You will need to ask this question several times to get to the core answers. For instance, we might start by asking the broad question of how some of the most “admired companies” are successful:

  • How was Apple able produce a new tablet in an over saturated computer hardware market, and redefine how people experience the internet?
  • How were Larry Page and Servey Brin with Google able to redefine search and advertising?
  • How does Warren Buffett consistently make investments in certain companies wisely and receive the returns he does?
  • How did Southwest Airlines successfully enter a highly competitive, unprofitable airline market, decide to “the low cost airlines” (the what) and become the most profitable airline company in the world?
  • How did Jeff Bezos turn his initial e-commerce idea into the world’s largest 

Look for Success Patterns, Connections and Themes

As you repeatedly ask the “how” question, look for connections, patterns and themes of what works and what doesn’t. Look both broadly (e.g., across businesses) and deeply (e.g., within your industry or business). Connections are relationships between two or more variables, ideas, people, events, etc. They help you to find and understand “cause and effect.” Patterns are approaches or models that can be used repeatedly as guides to help you succeed. 3M’s product development process might be an example. Themes are broad, recurring lessons. For instance, a theme that Jim Collins found was that all of the companies that went from good to great, had “level 5 leaders.”

Learning Tips

1. Develop a deep hunger to learn and grow in business strategy

2. Resarch broadly and deeply

  • The more content you review the more data points you will have.  Also, the more you look for patterns the better you will get at them

3. Continually ask key questions and think For example, as you read and learn you may want to ask yourself:

  • What was the firm’s business strategy?
  • How and why was this firm’s strategy successful?
  • How and why was this firm’s strategy unsuccessful?
  • What are the most important I can learn?

4. Capture and reviewe the essence of what your learn, helps you to think

  • Make it a habit to write down the main points and key principles that you learn. Also, try and boil down in one sentence the essence of the content (e.g., chapter, article, and video) you have reviewed. This will help you to find the essence or the core.

Resources to Help You Get Started

Business Research

Competitive Intelligence

Key Principles

Strategy Analysis 

Strategy Design 

Strategy Innovation

Strategic Tools

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