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.



  1. Good question, John. I’d say “We are not leaving this room until you decide what your most important Driving Force is. How can you expect shareholders to buy into a company that can’t even decide where it is today, let alone where it’s going? Would YOU invest in Walmart or AT&T if the top executives couldn’t agree on the framework that guides all their basic decision-making? Wouldn’t you see them as vulnerable to losing considerable market share? Now let’s get busy.”

  2. Sally, great points! The Driving Forces concept is truly timeless! How would you help a company ID their own driving force if they couldn’t answer you?

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