Strategy development

A situation analysis, which is a usable basis for strategy development, is a critical step and almost always uses visualization.

There are a lot of such established approaches for structuring and visualization like

  • SWOT analysis
  • balanced scorecard

We do not attempt here to cover the multitude of approaches to strategy development. You can’t miss them. We highlight two concepts that provide specific additional benefits for an adaptive organization:

  1. Organizational archetype and strategy development:
  2. Strategic Gameplay as part of Simon Warley’s mapping method.

    Simon Wardley is one of the critics who dispute the usefulness of these methods. Unlike most others, he presents an alternative concept.

Your strategy needs a strategy

Strategies that would work in predictable environments like the oil industry have virtually no chance of working in the far less predictable and less settled arena of Internet software. And also the skills strategists need in the respective industries have little to do with each other. Companies operating in either of these environments should plan, develop, and deploy their strategies in distinctly different ways. But research (BCG) shows that all too often they don’t.

Managers are well aware of the need to adapt their strategy development processes to their competitive environment. Still, the study found, many in practice rely on approaches that are better suited to predictable, stable environments, even when their own environments are known to be highly volatile or changeable.

What prevents these leaders from shaping their strategy to fit their situation? Perhaps they lack a systematic approach: a strategy for strategy development.

Here we present a simple framework by Martin Reeves that divides strategic planning into four styles, depending on how predictable your environment is and how much power you have to change it. Using this framework, business leaders can adapt their strategic style to the unique conditions of their industry, business function or geographic market.

strategy palette

Source: BCG

The Strategy Palette proposes five different strategic approaches:

  • Classic strategy: Achieving a competitive advantage through optimal positioning. Example: Shell
  • Adaptive strategy: achieving an advantage through rapid adaptation. Example: Zara.
  • Visionary strategy: inventing an industry with some degree of predictability, single-mindedly pursuing an opportunity. Example: Tesla
  • Shaping Strategy: Shaping firms shape or reshape an industry by influencing the development of a market in their favor through coordination with other players.
  • Renewal Strategy: A renewal strategy approach renews the vitality and competitiveness of a company when it faces a crisis or a harsh environment.

Strategic Gameplay with Wardley Maps

We have introduced Wardley Maps as an indispensable tool for situation analysis.

But that’s not the end of it: the second step, if not the core, of Wardley Mapping is the development of a concrete strategy, the “strategic gameplay” or “stratagems”.

Most of these actions are typical business activities, but some involve deception, misdirection, or even things that could be considered an abuse of power. Wardley used a value system from the gaming world to rank each action.

Evernote example gameplay
Evernote sample gameplay.