Choose a Strategy to Make Your Strategy

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 Responses from a recent Boston Consulting Group survey of 120 companies from around the world indicate that executives are well aware of the need to match their strategy making process to the specific demands of their competitive environments,  according to survey authors Claire Love,  Martin Reeves and Philipp Tillmanns of BCG.

But in practice,  many companies relied instead on approaches that are better suited to predictable and stable business conditions,  even when business conditions are known to be highly volatile.  Technological innovation,  social media and global uncertainty have conspired to make the business climate for nearly all industries less stable and predictable than in the past.  Business planning must reflect that reality and build strategies in response.

Love,  Reeves and Tillmanns identified four strategic styles:  Shaping,  Visionary,  Classic and Adaptive.  The first two styles are appropriate for major corporations that have the power to influence buying demands and habits on a massive scale.  Small business owners and Freelance consultants would choose between the latter two,  depending on the local business environment and practices in their industry.

Some industries are based on fast-moving,  changing market dynamics and furthermore,  uncertain economic times demand a more fluid and experimental approach.  In such environments,  long-term plans are essentially useless.  The Adaptive strategic style  is most appropriate under these conditions,  since it gives the business owner a roadmap to follow as goals and tactics are continually refined in response to shifting conditions.

Planning cycles may last only one year.  Initiatives are short-term,  quarter by quarter,  because making money is about what’s hot now.   Trendy hair stylists,  the hottest nightclubs and bars,  fashion forward retailers and entertainers from Lady GaGa to Nicki Minaj base their business planning on the Adaptive style of strategy setting.

Big data will not tell Adaptive style strategic planners what will be hot in six months.  On-the-ground brand representatives,  party promoters,  recognized style leaders and bloggers known to have credibility with the target customers give feedback on trends that might have significance,  that are ripe for a mini-marketing campaign that might bear fruit.  The Adaptive style planners then evaluate the trends and use the feedback to make informed decisions.

The Adaptive style encourages  companies to set up their organizations to test and roll out a variety of products and services as quickly and efficiently as possible,  constantly adapting in the light of sales figures and social media feedback.   Some strategies are bound to fail,  but numerous cost-conscious experiments made in quarterly or twice-yearly campaigns increase the likelihood of success and minimize losses when a trend is over-estimated.   Success is defined by carving out the best position in a volatile marketplace.

Setting strategy begins with an accurate assessment of your industry and local business environment.  Depending on the business conditions,  the Freelance consultant or small business owner would choose either the Classic or Adaptive strategy style when a planning session is in order.  From there,  it will be possible to find a path that will allow you to apply your unique expertise and resources to making the most of available money-making opportunities.

Thanks for reading,



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