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Strategy in the New World

Satya Prabhakar
Monday, December 6, 2010
 Satya Prabhakar
A friend of mine who was a CFO at a Nasdaq-listed public company made this comment over a cup of coffee, “Success is strategy!” Brevity, it seems, is not just the soul of wit but also of wisdom.

Strategy is focus and allocation of resources to a defined set of products/services and systems/processes to market and deliver them. Billions of words and millions of articles have been written on effective leadership and strategy. Ultimately, if a person or a business succeeds, then the approach adopted by that person or the business is lionized as the “right” strategy. But we know a couple of things:

a. A strategy that works for a company today may not work for the same company tomorrow.
b. A strategy that works for one company today may not work for another company in the same space.

Given the furious velocity of change in technology, consumer behavior and competitive landscape, strategy definition has become simultaneously even more difficult and critical. For those of us in the new media space, this is even more difficult because it is far easier for companies to change direction and business model as there are no huge investments sunk in land, factories, buildings, machinery and inventory like it is in other industries.

Michael Porter, a guru of strategy, said he went in search of external factors that possibly caused a series of bad decisions in good companies. He studied this for 20 to 25 years and concluded that it’s not so much driven by external conditions – but “strategic errors that the company does to itself.” Often, strategic errors are most clearly visible looking back after some crucial time has elapsed.

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