Posted by: drsallywrightstrategy | April 2, 2010

Great Strategic Move on the New York Stage

Let’s face it–a lot of us went to see Aida because of the elephants, right?   I mean circus elephants walking right across the stage in downtown New York City?  What could be more fun than that?

Dogs.  or more precisely, Dalmations.  Rescued ones, at that.  The lastest iteration of the “101 Dalmations” story is  a stage musical with the irresistible allure of 15 rescued Dalmations worked cleverly into the show’s splashy production numbers, right alongside people dressed in Dalmation costumes. 

Now, I don’t know about you, but sometimes I see a strategy that is so brilliant in its simplicity and appeal that I just have to shake my head.  My mentor Dr. Alan Weiss is fond of saying there’s nothing new under the sun.  This one is as old as civilization: if a child goes nuts over a pet, then how thrilled will an audience of children be to see 15 real, live pets prancing on the stage, stars of a New York musical?

I hope the producers have found a good stuffed Dalmation manufacturer.   The spin-off product sales are going to go through the roof.

Posted by: drsallywrightstrategy | April 2, 2010

Poor iPad Strategy from Apple

Apple is recognized worldwide for its brilliant strategy in conceiving and launching the iPhone and iPod.   Economic magazines tout Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ prescience, market-savvy, and timing genius.  Why, then, did Apple depart from its wining game plan and launch the iPad before the iBooks software was completed?  Especially since e-books are supposed to be a major factor in iPad popularity?

Both the iPhone and iPod have built-in connections to the company’s iTunes store.  But because iBooks wasn’t finished when the iPad manufacturing began, it was not pre-installed. Yes, it will supposedly be available on Saturday.  But here’s where the company misfired—-they failed to capitalize on the strength of their brand, and in doing so, opened the door to competitors hungry to cash in on the iDevice phenomenon.

An Apple product buyer expects excellence—-it’s syonymous with the Apple brand.  Had iBooks been pre-installed, the new iPad owner would have used it as a default simply on the strength of the brand.  Since it was not pre-installed, however, users are free to load any e-book app they please.   Amazon and Barnes and Noble both have richer, more nimble e-bookstores.  And although the Amazon app isn’t available yet for the iPad, my guess is that Amazon engineers are working at mach 5 to make it available as soon as possible.   

So much for Apple’s e-book market share.

Posted by: drsallywrightstrategy | March 31, 2010

Almay Gets It Right

Almay just hit one out of the ballpark.  Here is an excerpt from a March 31 press release on their new product, an eyeshadow-eyeliner-mascara trio called I-Color with instant inherent appeal:

“There are many features on the body that get noticed, but only a few that stay with a person after you leave the room. Gorgeous eyes are at the top of that list. So how can you be sure that you’re remembered for your intensely blue, green, brown or hazel gaze? The Almay Intense I-Color collection with Light Interplay Technology enhances your natural eye color to reveal brighter and more intense eye color.”

Talk about zeroing in on their market scope.  No acquisitions of unrelated companies, no diving off into unknown waters—just using their Driving Force (Market Needs for women who use cosmetics, which is just about every woman from age 13 to 83) to guide the launching of a new product that will have women beating a path to the nearest drugstore.  Whether it actually works or not, many women will try this product for its Special Technology (whatever that is) to make blue eyes look bluer, green eyes look greener, you get the idea (I wanted to stop at “hazel eyes look hazeler” because it looks like egregious use of the language).

What woman doesn’t want to have more attractive eyes?  Cleopatra must be turning over in her grave that she was born too early to try this product.  I might just head to the drugstore myself.

Posted by: drsallywrightstrategy | March 31, 2010

Why Is An Organization’s Driving Force So Important?

It is critical that executives in an organization know the Driving Force, because it establishes the parameters for product and market scope.  In smaller businesses (medical practices or quick-stop franchises, for example), product and market scope are easy to determine.  Medical practices, with a Products/Services offered Driving Force, offer medical care of a specialized kind in a specific geographical region (Somerset Pediatric in Somerset County, New Jersey.)  Quick-stops offer gas, ice cream, food staples, and sandwiches (WaWa  in Baltimore Maryland).

But the larger an organization becomes, the more it needs to define the boundaries of product and market scope so that the company doesn’t head off to pursue yet another unrelated profit opportunity, wasting time, enerergy, and money.

Posted by: drsallywrightstrategy | March 11, 2010

The Nine Basic Driving Forces of Organizations

In the last blog, I talked about “Top Management Strategy” (1980)  authors Tregoe and Zimmerman discussing nine basic Driving Forces for organizations.  Here is a brief explanation of each:

  1. Products Offered – this guides an organization that will continue to deliver products in the future that it has delivered in the past.  It will widen existing markets and penetrate new ones with products similar to those it has developed before.  Examples: Hersheys, NewLine Cinema, Pepsico.
  2. Market Needs – this guides an organization that developes products or services for a particular market segment.  It uses constant feedback mechanisms like surveys and market analysis reports to generate data on what appeals to the segment buyers.  Example: Victoria’s Secret, Mattel Inc., Playboy.
  3. Technology – the lastest and most cutting-edge innovations characterize organizations which have this Driving Force.  They seek broad applications for their technologies, and sometimes sell the technologies to other companies who develop other products.  Examples: Microsoft, Gendex, Intel.
  4. Production Capability – companies with this Driving Force offer only products that can be developed using their unique knowledge, equipment, and/or manufacturing processes.  Examples: Du-co Ceramics, Johnson-Matthey Silver and Coating Technologies.
  5. Method of Sale – with this Driving Force, the organization’s markets will be primarily built around how the product is sold.  Markets will be developed primarily around whether they can support that method of sale.  Example: Mary Kay Cosmetics, Amazon, Party Lite, Amway.
  6. Method of Distribution – this Driving Force focuses on the means, systems, and channels by which the products reach the consumer.  New peoducts are chosen based on their ability to fit into established delivery channels.  Examples: Burger King, Redbox.
  7. Natural Resources – this Driving Focre is used by companies which develop and market wealth supplied by nature.  They enter new markets when new needs/locations are developed for the products.  Examples: Exxon Mobile, Newmont Mining.
  8. Size/Growth –  organizations with this Driving Force set ambitious goals for expansion and will push into new markets and products with growth as the explicit goal.  Examples: Twitter, Facebook, Verizon.
  9. Return/Profit –  organizations with this Driving Force often have widely divergent product lines, with the goal of returning profit consistently over time.  Examples: General Electric.

The Driving Force of any organization can be determined by answering a simple question: when decisions are made about products or markets, which of the above areas is most heavily weighted?  This is the organization’s primary Driving Force.

Posted by: drsallywrightstrategy | February 28, 2010

What Is Your Organization’s Driving Force?

What am I talking about with this title?  It’s a theory developed by Tregoe and Zimmerman in 1980 that is even more applicable now than it was then—because there are more businesses, more competition, greater push for market share, faster technology, more innovation than ever before.

In their consulting work with hundreds of organizations, Tregoe and Zimmerman postulated that there are nine forces that serve as basic propulsion mechanisms for all companies.

You might ask at this point: what about profit?  Isn’t that always the driving force? Well, yes. Legendary Coca Cola CEO Roberto Goizsueta once said that the prime function of any business is to create wealth for its shareholders.  All businesses have to make money, or they can’t continue to exist.  But we’re talking here about the one force that sets the direction of all efforts and influences the nature of all decisions in the organization.  The one force which, when understood and acknowledged, can serve as an invaluable true north for strategy formulation.

At least, it should.  But ask business leaders today “What is the Driving Force of this organization?” and you’ll stop many of them in their tracks.  Which is why I wanted to blog the Driving Force concept, which has enduring value through changing times. (Don’t get me wrong, I do see value in many of the “management fads” that come and go.  But some of them have more value than others, and deserve to be re-iterated over and over.  This is one.)

The nine Driving Forces are: 1) products offered 2) market needs 3) technology 4) production capability 5) method of sale 6) method of distribution 7) natural resources 8 size/growth and 9) return.  You might already be thinking of businesses in some of these categories.  See you next blog, when we discuss each Driving Force in detail, and give examples of companies in each.

Posted by: drsallywrightstrategy | February 18, 2010

Welcome to Dr. Sally Wright’s New Blog on Strategy

Hello.  I am Dr. Sally Wright, a management consultant and president of Alliance Consulting Group, Inc.  I help individuals and organizations improve their performance.  Welcome to my blog on strategy formulation and implementation.

Let’s start with the clear, basic assumptions spelled out in noted consultant Alan Weiss’ book “Best Laid Plans”.  Strategy is where an organization is going.  Tactics, also called operations, is how it is going to get there.  These two are confused in at least three-quarters of the business books I have read, so  it is no wonder that strategic retreats produce muddled and ineffective results via their massive three-ring binders.

To define key concepts a bit further, strategic formulation is asking and answering “Where is this organization going?”  for one year, three years, etc.  Strategic implementation is, basically, making it all happen.

Having said that, you can look at any page of any major daily newspaper from Day 1 to Day 2 and understand why massive, static documents do not serve the needs of today’s businesses.

Businesses change.  They evolve. They grow and merge, take over and get taken over, expand and shrink, reinvent themselves and keep charging.

So if you take nothing else from this blog, take this: strategy is change management, and a strategic document had better be an active, living work in progress if it is going to do an organization any good at all.