Meet the Expert
Adjunct Professor of Strategy, INSEAD
- Focus on the intersection of strategy implementation and organizational change - how a company’s approach to strategy development shifts as a company grows and matures.
- Adjunct Professor of Strategy at INSEAD - in strategy and strategy implementation to MBAs and executives.
- Visiting Assistant Professor, Harvard Business School
- Management consultant with McKinsey & Company in New York and Sydney
- PhD in Strategic and International Management
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Strategy for Business Expansion and Corporate Growth
Adjunct Professor of Strategy, INSEAD
- As smaller companies scale they tend to lose strategic focus.
Once a startup company reaches a certain size, the senior management team finds that they can no longer manage the workflow. They need to scale the organization. But in many organizations this is done in a piecemeal fashion, which creates inefficiencies and a lack of focus. These symptoms tend to creep up on an organization. It may take time for the company to recognize that it needs to rethink what it is doing, and retarget and refocus the strategy.
- Early strategic plans become inadequate in the face of information from real customers.
As a company starts to build its customer base it begins to have much more information about the marketplace than it ever could have had pre-launch. Companies tend to discover customer and market information that is beyond what was envisioned in its early strategic plan. Real data about who is buying, which segments are profitable and which segments are winning customers away from competitors often brings surprises that have an impact on overall strategy. Many companies do not revisit their strategy in light of this new information, or they revisit it too late, squandering valuable opportunities. This is the moment to leverage knew market insights, to inform your strategy and adjust it to maximize the opportunities for success moving forward.
- As companies grow they need functional managers to begin to think strategically – a hard transition for managers focused on operational efficiency.
As your organization grows, operational efficiency, even operational excellence, is no longer enough. Functional managers must cultivate a strategic focus. They need to understand the company’s overall strategy and be able to apply it and produce solutions consistent with it. At a certain stage of growth, a company can no longer win as long as strategy remains the bailiwick of the founder or senior management alone.
- Companies have a strategy but rarely or never revisit it in light of changing conditions.
Market conditions change. New regulations, new competitors or new technologies can change the game significantly. It is necessary to revisit and revitalize your strategy in response to changing circumstances. Companies that do not occasionally revisit their strategy leave opportunities on the table or they stumble through the market when they could be much more pointed and focused.
- Larger, established companies can lose strategic focus through the inertia inherent in large organizations.
Sometimes companies have a strong strategy but it becomes unfocused as it moves through the layers of the organization. Sometimes they have an unclear strategy that the broader organization neither understands nor buys in to. The generals know where they are headed but the troops no longer believe that the company is doing the right thing. The strategy has somehow “gotten away” from the organization.
- In large organizations, strategic focus often diminishes in the crush of activity.
Many organizations are overburdened with tasks that must get done. There are too many priorities, too many initiatives, too much activity and no process to focus the organization strategically. In such cases it is common for managers to perform well within their function but they are not empowered to make decisions around strategic priorities. Managers and contributors don’t feel as though they understand the company’s strategy and therefore they cannot make choices that need to be made. They tend to look to more senior managers to make these choices for them.
Strategy for Business Expansion and Corporate Growth: Common Problems