Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Strategy Content vs. Implementation

Business strategy is often described as doing something different than your rivals. My concern is that perhaps we tend to overemphasize the "what" of strategy at the cost of the "how." Two companies can have exactly the same strategy content (e.g., be the low cost producer) but differ greatly in their ability to implement that strategy.

I was reminded of this when looking at a national retailer recently. The content of its strategy (great customer service, well-trained employees, efficient supply chain control, etc.) was extremely similar to that of its main rivals. Does this mean the retailer can not generate a competitive advantage? Not at all. If the retailer has hard-to-duplicate resources that allow it to achieve its strategy better than its competitors, it can create a competitive advantage with exactly the same strategy content.

So, when you think about strategy, don't just think about what your strategy should be. Think about implementation, too. (And many would argue that implementation is actually the more difficult of the two issues.)

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