Sunday, February 18, 2007

Strategic Planning - the power of focus

This is the second in a series of short articles about how to increase the power of your strategic planning

2. Get More Focus

This approach should be in every strategic planner's toolbox, but many planners avoid it because there are some very difficult trade-offs involved. It is simply impossible for even the biggest, richest company to be all things to all people. Despite this, I constantly encounter companies who want "one stop shopping" to be their strategic competency. Now, one stop shopping can be a nice competitive advantage IF you have the resources, and IF you know who your customers are very well, but many companies pursue this approach long before either of those is true.

Why is focus so important? Look at it this way: if you spend all of your time and money trying to develop a reputation for great service in five different industries, don't you think you might get beaten by a company that spends the same amount on just ONE industry? Yes, you have the other four industries to fall back on (and I can hear the "don't put all your eggs in one basket" crowd shouting this), BUT...chances are you will run up against a focused strategy in EVERY market, eventually, because it WORKS! can you get more focus? One simple approach is to make a list of your five least favorite customers and ask why you don't like them...or maybe, why they don't like you. This is always a useful exercise, and often yields some surprising answers. But more importantly, I strongly suggest you go through the Strategic Competency exercises in the Simplified Strategic Planning process (on pages 3.2 and 5.2)...and use that compenteny to define your focus. You'll be glad you did.

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