Teaching and practicing strategy is what I love. Strategy or strategic innovation is like a chess game except the chessboard keeps morphing into different shapes and there are always players entering and leaving the game. My experience is that it is subject that is undertaught in business schools and least understood in the business world. It seems like my students at CEDIM Master of Innovation Program are all having a good time. And I got a bottle of Tequila from Carolos and Michael. You need that to teach innovation I supposed.
First you cannot separate strategy from strategic innovation, competitive strategy can sustain you but cannot leapfrog others. Second strategy has a soft side, such as the putting ‘Purpose’ into the strategy equation. You cannot differentiate around something that you don’t have a heart for it.
Finding differentiation is hard enough, making sure it is relevant and sustainable is even more difficult. Putting ‘Purpose’ into it is the most difficult, you simply can’t fake it. When it comes to strategy implementation, purpose is even more important. Often you will have to make very difficult economic trade offs, without that, you will simply make those decisions based on short term economic benefits.
If Zappos did that, they would not have offered one year return policy or have their call center in India instead of Las Vegas. These all add up to the happiness indexes of Zappos which is the core of its strategy. Strategy implementation is also iterative, a process inducing various forms of individual and organizational learning, because both external threats and strategic responses are shaping these decisions on an everyday basis.
What every organization needs to achieve enduring success and power up true differentiation is ‘Purpose’. It is critical and can break the most robust strategy if there is a lack of one. It is not a mission statement or something that hangs on the wall. It is core reason for people to come to work and to mobilize all managers and employees to act consistently, responsibly and decisively. It triggers innovative thinking and trustful working relationships.