Friday, November 18, 2005

2 Books on Strategic Execution

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM

JUDO STRATEGY: Turning your competitor’s strength to your advantage
By David B. Yoffie and Mary Kwak
Harvard Business School Press (2001)

By Richard Boyatzis and Annie Mckee
Harvard Business School Press (2005)

One article I read strongly suggests that being strategic is quite simple: it's about being future-looking; it's about having an inclination to look to the future as much as to the present; it's about being able to read the future (or a range of alternative futures), feel the future, live the future and describe the future in a way which enables others to share and "see" the future with you.

One way of being strategic, authors Boyatzis and Mckee write, is choosing resonance over dissonance. “Resonant leaders are in tune with those around them. This results in people working in sync with each other, in tune with each others’ thoughts (what to do) and emotions (why to do it). Leaders who can create resonance are people who either intuitively understand or have worked hard to develop emotional intelligence—namely the competencies of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. They act with clarity, not simply following a whim or an impulse.”

Additionally emotional leaders manage others’ emotions and build strong, trusting relationships. “They know that emotions are contagious, and their own emotions are powerful drivers of their peoples’ moods and, ultimately, performance. They understand that while fear and anger may mobilize people in the short term, these emotions backfire quickly, leaving people distracted, anxious and ineffective. They read people, groups and organizational cultures accurately and they build lasting relationships. They cause those around them to want to move, in concert, toward an exciting future.” They give us courage and hope and help us to become the best that we can be.

In Resonant Leadership, the authors show the dynamic relationship among mindfulness, hope and compassion to spark the kind of positive emotions that enable us to remain resilient in the face of challenges, even in the unprecedented climate that leaders face today. Boyatzis introduced his own cyclical process of Intentional Change Theory to help leaders journey to renewal.

In 1994-95, Netscape was the hottest company and its flagship product, Navigator, is the dominant browser in the high technology world. Until December 2005 when Microsoft unleashed a declaration of war, driving Netscape’s share price to the ground. By the end of the decade, Microsoft was king of the browser business, and Netscape survived only as a division of AOL.

By the end of 1996, Palm Computing’s Pilot, a handheld electronic organizer, has dominated its market. Eight years after its birth, Palm was not only alive and kicking, to borrow from the Apply lexicon, it was “insanely great” despite Microsoft’s repeated efforts to take over the market.

Why did Palm succeed where Netscape failed? What distinguishes challengers who build successful businesses from those who fall by the wayside despite an auspicious start? Which strategies hold the most promise for companies facing powerful opponents and which are most likely to lead to defeat? What strategy is most likely to succeed when size or strength is not on your side?

Authors Yoffie and Kwak suggest that the lesson here is at the heart of judo strategy. Netscape opposed strength to strength, while Palm studied the competition carefully, avoided head-to-head battles and turned their opponents’ strengths to their advantage.

Judo strategy is a multilayered concept. “At the most basic level, it functions as a metaphor that evokes powerful images about how to compete and win. If you keep the image of judo competition firmly in mind, it will be easy to visualize the moves that make it possible to beat a stronger opponent.”

Judo Strategy explores three principles that should inform one’s thinking: movement, balance and leverage. Each principle provides a different piece of the strategy puzzle. Movement throws competition off balance and neutralizes their initial advantages. Balance helps engage with the competition and survive an attack. And leverage enables to bring the opponents down. When used together, these three principles will help defeat rives of any size.

“In addition to downplaying the role of brute strength, judo strategy puts premium on qualities such as speed, flexibility and innovation. The authors continue to describe the movement at Palm: follow through fast:

The Challenge: You’ve built a healthy lead over the competition, what’s next?
The Solution: Use this window of opportunity to build the strongest position you can: streamline internal processes in order to continue upgrading your products or services at a rapid pace; and don’t be greedy, especially in industries where network effects play an important role, then price aggressively in order to win market share and build a large installed base.

How to beat a judo master? Use the sumo strategy.

By Lance Kurke, Ph.D.
AMACOM (2004)

HOW TO GROW A BACKBONE: 10 strategies for gaining power and influence at work
By Susan Marshall
Contemporary Books (2000)