Using your strategy to create opportunity in uncertain times: Five top tips
Strategy is all about making clear choices and following through on those choices with rapid action. As times are growing increasingly more complex, executive teams are becoming paralysed by uncertainty and turn their focus to survival rather than on growth. This mindset makes the challenge of uncertain times all the more difficult to navigate.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be this way. In this article, we set out the five actions that you can take to create opportunity from the unknown.
1. Understand how you create value
Often companies are focussed on the process of creating and delivering products and services, rather than considering the value that you create for your customers by doing so. Understanding the flows of value through the organisation will allow you to assess if your current strategy is working in the right way for you. Many organisations with a classical strategy that is based on growing the largest market share in any given segment are pivoting to strategies based on adaptation, brokering services, or even on creating a bold vision and a new market.
Understanding how you’re creating value for your customers and how your strategy is supporting you to do this increases time to value dramatically and gives you an aligned view across your executive team on where to place your bets for growth.
Few medium-to-large organisations have a single view of the portfolio of change they are making across their business. Even fewer spend time understanding the impact of these changes and making sure that they are delivering what is intended, complementing, and not competing.
To create capacity for new ideas, drive opportunity, or pivot, you should collate and review the portfolio of change across the whole organisation. Within this list will be some projects that you absolutely must do, whilst hidden under the surface will be a set of initiatives which use up organisational energy with no clear outcomes. These are the projects to put aside. When we have supported clients to do this, their first reaction on visualising the whole portfolio is shock: “Surely we can’t really be doing all of this?” Prioritisation flows quickly from that clarity.
3. Be prepared to focus
Opportunity is created from focussing on where you can create the most value. For most businesses, this is a combination of extending your core business into adjacent markets and product categories and in imagining bold new areas of growth.
A strategy which makes clear choices on the growth areas you will focus on aligns your executive team and organisation on channelling their energy into creating opportunity.
This should not just be a theoretical exercise. Using design thinking and rapid business model generation, you can take these opportunities and build compelling customer value propositions and new business models from them. Bringing them to life in this way breaks the cycle of analysis-paralysis and substantially speeds up your time to market. We have learnt that the most effective way to catalyse this new thinking is with in-person creative and collaborative sessions based on design thinking to engage the whole executive team.
4. Become your own venture capitalist
Companies that create opportunity in uncertain times are often those that can adapt quickly, backing a portfolio of small experiments in new growth areas and pouring energy and resources into the one that are most likely to succeed.
Shifting your organisational culture from one where every initiative has to succeed to one where one of a portfolio of ten initiatives will succeed can be challenging, but the results can be dramatic. It can help to unleash the creativity in your teams and bring your strategy to life in a practical way, not just a theoretical one.
Just like a venture capitalist, this approach allows you to adapt as the world changes whilst building early presence and market share in new areas of growth. From helping clients to catalyse this change, we’ve learnt that it is just as important to continue to evolve the business model you are pursuing alongside taking a product to minimal viable product (MVP). Doing this will show what’s possible through action, building confidence and buy in.
5. Take the long view on sustainability and a diverse & inclusive workforce
With uncertainty, change, and challenging economic times, it can be easy to look at what’s in front of you, focussing on products and services, revenue, and margins. However, your organisation-wide initiatives on sustainability or diversity and inclusion are critical for sustaining your competitive advantage in the long-term.
Instead of thinking of these as an add-on to your core business, you can bring these into the core, creating a strategy for competitive advantage that harnesses the innovation that comes with net zero and the increase in organisational performance from a diverse and inclusive workforce.
How to get started
Uncertain times create opportunities, and the right strategy will allow you to capture these and bring them to life before your competitors. There things you can do now - aligning your executive team, focussing on your areas of strength, and investing in a portfolio of experiments to turbocharge your growth.
The most important first step is to build a common view across your executive team of where your strategy is now and where you want to be in the future. Whilst this can seem like a big challenge to start with, the benefits of creating the space to stop and think will be rewarding.
How can we help?
Credera specialises in strategy to action, supporting you to define the clear choices that will help your business to thrive and rapidly turn these choices into results. We have experience and insight across the whole product development lifecycle, allowing you to dramatically speed up your time to value. To learn how we can support you further, please get in touch.