Competing to Win

Dedicate resources specifically to innovation Why? Because truly creative thinking requires people to take risks, and sometimes to fail. In environments that don’t punish failure, people are more likely to try new concepts or pursue seemingly crazy ideas—the ones that often result in the most revolutionary, exciting products and services.
Don't cower when the economy slows down Use the opportunity to streamline operations and rationalize investments so that you are poised to capture the growth that prescient leaders see just around the corner.
Expand your niche Find new sources of revenue growth that make use of your core competencies.
Grow your strengths Improve your leadership style without losing the competitive edge that has enabled you to succeed.
Spend wisely Thrift works, but if you’re not an “underdog” then it can frustrate employees who feel the company is too large or too profitable to be so miserly.
Keep a clear eye on expenditures Countless companies have thrown good money after bad, thanks to the all-too-human tendency toward non-rational escalation of commitment. Most often, this occurs when managers can’t forget earlier investments – otherwise known as sunk costs.
Assess, develop, and execute again and again As competitors, customers, and market dynamics change, winning companies never stop asking, “what business are we in?”
Get closer to your customers Leverage the company’s core capabilities to bring it close to its customers.
Share your vision A powerful strategy does not just define what a company produces, but also articulates a clear benefit for the customer. Far more effective than a laundry list of discrete initiatives (which can also seem like an assignment to employees), a compelling vision for success creates a stronger motivation: a shared set of goals.
Organize to succeed Major shifts in strategy often require organizational change. In particular, strategies that require collaboration among business units cannot succeed if the organization – structure and systems – gets in the way.
Get creative As populations grow, winning companies will be those that successfully do more with less through creative technology solutions, clever process fixes, or some combination of the two.
Focus on quality of execution Today’s consumers place a premium on both customization and speed, but companies may find it increasingly difficult to improve along both dimensions simultaneously. Eventually, you may have to focus on just one.
Price increases do more than boost revenues They can also serve to signal an aggressive strategy to the marketplace. Customers know that they are paying for a premium product, and competitors know that a price war will only destroy value.
Listen carefully Pay attention to your critics, who may understand your weaknesses better than you’d think.
Stay engaged Not even the oldest and most tradition-bound companies can afford insularity. Frequent interactions with customers and critics alike can allow a company to test new product and marketing concepts, gather useful feedback, and – just as importantly – build trust.
Use your networks Staying close to your distributors is a no-brainer to nip problems in the bud, but there’s an added benefit: a peek into your customers’ minds. The distributors own the relationships that determine if your merchandising and advertising is working.
You're being watched A leader needs to know that their every move is being closely watched – by everyone inside and outside the company. In a merger situation, alignment of the top brass is especially important, if leaders are squabbling in public, doubt will be cast on the success of the merger from the outset.
Think long-term Too many new leaders try to shape things up even before they’ve claimed their corner office. Drastic, hasty moves get publicity but they rarely set the stage for long-term growth.

Strategy Power Plays

We culled the most provocative, interesting, and useful strategies and tactics from Strategy Power Plays that can inspire innovative thinking and problem-solving in your own business, department, or company. Share these strategies with your colleagues and team members, with your employees, or use them to benchmark your own practices. And most of all, use these power plays as a launching pad to write your own "Playbook" to ensure you stay at the top of your game.

More Power Plays

More Playbooks and Tip Sheets