Part II: A SAFE Way to Win In Business

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“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.”

–     Michael Porter (b. 1947), American academic, management and strategy theorist

Part II of our four-part series on winning “SAFE-ly” in business focuses on the “S” and the “A.”

The “S” stands for “Strategy over structure,” while the “A” covers awareness, abilities and acumen.

S = Strategy Over Structure

In his “Four Corners Model,” Porter looks at the drivers (motivation and assumptions) that can be derived about a competitor and the actions (strategies and capabilities) as well.  At The Heston Group, we believe that the first sign of impending failure is most easily spotted in the leadership qualities of the CEO (capabilities) and the background of the leadership team (motivational drivers).  These gaps are what causes a company to choose structure over strategy and to opt-out of investing in differing experience sets, skills and new ways of creating value.

Organizational structure is one of Porters’ motivational drivers, and, keeping with his intent that the Four Corners be used to assess competitors, there is nothing as appetizing as squaring off against a competitor who honors structure first.  To honor strategy requires continually investing in diverse talent and investing in developing skills and experiences in existing talent so that the business will evolve.  In other words, and to paraphrase Coffman and Sorensen, strategy eats structure for dinner! 

A = Awareness, Acumen and Abilities

Ultimately, the A’s feed each other.  Awareness, both self-and-general help us be aware of where we — team members, teams and companies — are strong and where we have room to grow.  Acumen tells us whether we have the ability to grow.  Abilities (aka skills, to some degree) can be developed.  Training, practice, repetition all play into the equation here.

Lesson from ‘Mater

The classic scene in “Cars” (no link available, dang it) where the Sheriff asks Mater, “What did I tell you about talking to the prisoner?” and Mater replies, “To not to…” is, well, classic in and of itself.

Deciding what “to not to” do frees up time for the things we ought to do.  Evaluating our market and competitors.  Research.  Training.  Going deeper.  Planning.  Or, as a banker friend of mine in Texas used to say, “Fixin’ to commence to get ready…” to get better.

 

 


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Trackbacks

  1. […] our businesses, the same window of time might be all it takes, and a great example takes us back to the “S.”  If we’re not honoring strategy over structure, we’re gonna pull a hammy.  […]

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