Companies must master six specific issues to achieve market leadership in this decade. Successfully applying these six make-or-break issues can shape an organization's marketing strategy and boost its bottom line.
If employers are having a hard time finding capable employees today, just wait until tomorrow. Those responsible for recruiting entry-level staff in the 1990s and beyond will have their hands full. Demographic studies show that companies will be hard pressed to find an adequate supply of properly skilled young people from the generation that is about to enter the job market.
When it come to building new facilities, time is money. Delays cost dollars, blunt your competitive edge, and leave you with a building that's obsolete before it opens. Here's how to use functional programming, process-oriented teams and good planning to keep your project on track and your company on budget.
Defining the right product at the right moment is important. But how long it takes to develop and introduce that product can have a dramatic impact on both customer satisfaction and ROI. Here's a metaphorical approach to streamlining the process.
Many managers believe that superior service should play little or no role in competitive strategy; they maintain that service innovations are inherently copiable. However, the author states that this view is too narrow. For a company to achieve a lasting service advantage, it must base a new service on a capability gap that competitors cannot or will not copy.
While acquisitions are a popular means of creating shareholder value, almost 50 percent fall short of expectation. This article notes recent acquisition trends, reviews the basic strategic logic, and explores some ways acquiring companies can improve their chances of success.
Strategy as a means to attain competitive advantage has evolved rapidly over the last 30 years. Today, it is a dominant lever available to management to implement competitive changes inside their organization. Because strategy is such an important force for action, it is paramount that organizational changes be continually directed by highly reliable, timely information about potential competitive advantages. One method currently proving most useful in directing strategic action is benchmarking.
Managers have largely overlooked computer technology as a valuable resource in creating competitive advantage. To rectify the situation, companies will have to overcome resistance to change, heal the data processing/general management breach, and take a long, hard look at the economic issues involved.
As the personal computer marketplace becomes increasingly competitive and PCs become more of a commodity, computer companies are finding that creating innovative technology alone is no longer enough to succeed. Companies must be viewed as value leaders that are customer‐driven instead of technology‐driven. Customers expect and demand more for their money, which means vendors must not only offer low prices, but also efficient delivery, personalized products and services, and responsive customer support.
According to Leon Gorman, president of L. L. Bean, service is a day‐in, day‐out, ongoing, never‐ending, unremitting, persevering, compassionate type of activity. Given L. L. Bean's position as the service quality leader in its industry, the message is one no marketing executive can afford to ignore. Indeed, every executive's nightmare should be overhearing a customer say one of the following remarks:
As companies move through the stages of their corporate life cycle, many fail to adjust their sales model to meet new business requirements. This article illustrates that problem with a case study of a major telecommunications organization and includes a three-step process that can be used during strategic planning and budgeting.
The business environment for the past quarter‐century has been characterized by increasing competition, decreasing product life cycles, and growth of industrial organizations in terms of both human and physical assets. Coupled with these challenges are increased societal pressures for greater corporate accountability. In order to survive and eventually achieve myriad diverse objectives, decisionmakers are forced to extend planning horizons, introducing even greater levels of uncertainty. Moreover, the typical decision‐maker is further removed from action points, increasing the communications problem and rendering decisive management more difficult.
In these financially constrained times, should your company spend money developing ways to sell your prod-ucts or services to Hispanics? Unless you can afford to overlook a booming $171-billion market, the answer is a resounding yes. The Hispanic market will be even more significant in the coming years; Hispanics are the US's number-one growth market due to high birth and immigration rates.
Too often, long-range environmental forecasting is ignored in order to cut costs. But long-range forecasting can actually reduce costs and win new markets ahead of the competition. For example, Sears removed flammable nightwear and substituted nonflammable nightwear long before government action made this a requirement. S. C. Johnson and Sons eliminated environmentally risky fluorocarbons from its aerosol sprays three years before the government forced competing firms to comply. Both firms were able to reduce substantially their costs of compliance and avoided the criticism from public-spirited groups that was directed toward their competitors.
Let's start with a subject we're all committed to—our children. When my child was very young, my wife and I learned, as do most parents, that there are several approaches to dealing with crying at night. First, you can let a child cry. After all, life is full of ups and downs and terrors of the night. In the business world, we call them by other names—downsizing, layoffs, career plateaus, political hot soup. But kids will have to learn how to deal with them. You can't expect sympathy later, so why expect it now?
Strategy has become one of the most overused and misused words in our business vocabulary. Chief executives love to talk about strategy because “it's the thing to do.” Managers love the word because it makes them sound more professional. Planners love “strategy” because it allows them to establish their own unique identity within the corporation. Which managers can stand before their subordinates, peers, or bosses and admit to not having a strategy?
Do it right, and your investment in information technology can have all sorts of strategic payoffs. Do it wrong, and you'll be paying, dearly, for nothing. Here's a guide to evaluating IT and measuring its impact.
Competitive‐cost benchmarking is an action‐oriented tool that enables companies to quantify how their performance and costs compare against competitors, understand why their performance and costs are different, and apply that insight to strengthen competitive responses and implement proactive plans. Benchmarking, by definition, goes beyond competitive‐cost analysis, which is often a staff exercise without a structured follow‐up implementation program; its goal reaches beyond simple competitor emulation. In this article, emphasis is placed on how commodity product benchmarking is performed and the bottom‐line and strategy improvements that can be gained as a result.
Strategic performance can be linked to shareholder value by measuring the positive spread between a company's return on capital employed and the cost of capital. If managers see a significant performance gap in their spread, compared with that of a premier company, they should redefine their strategic goals.
There is nothing that can wreck a well‐intentioned benchmarking plan faster than selecting the wrong people for the team. Take the company that chose staff members who didn't have enough credibility within the organization to sell their benchmarking team's recommendations to senior management. The team did an excellent job, but without the clout to get their recommendations approved, their efforts failed.
One has only to walk down the aisle of a local supermarket or industry tradeshow to understand how far today's market has evolved from a place in which companies offered one product and customers simply bought it. Transformed by free market competition, self‐service technology, mass communications, and globalization, the market now permits customers to fulfill their most individual need or passing whimsy.
A growing number of business experts advocate that workers should take on some management tasks. Many companies are already experimenting with self-managing work teams. Here's how one company was able to achieve record productivity gains through total employee involvement.
A majority of director attention has recently been given to the problem of how a director discharges his duty to stockholders and protects himself from legal liabilities. In an effort to show their “due diligence” in exercising the care that “a prudent man would use in the conduct of his own affairs,” directors have begun to place increased emphasis on staying informed of the corporation's health and operations, as well as ensuring that publicly issued documents are accurate representations of the firm's status.
Traditional downsizing strategies often ignore the fact that corporate resources are inefficiently deployed. Here is a six-step approach to realigning, eliminating, and reallocating resources to improve overall operations.
Up until now, strategic planning has been done primarily at the business unit and corporate levels. The growing complexity and interdependence of the business environment argues for a new concept of strategy. Companies must begin to view strategy from a collectivistic perspective. Only by collective action will companies be able to meet the challenges ahead.
Companies have rushed to market environmentally acceptable products. But according to the author, many have ignored the planning considerations that should have preceded the development and promotion of these "green" products.
Boards of directors have been the subject of growing concern over the past decade. Today, pressures are building for increased reform within the corporate boardroom. An apparent increase in director responsibilities and liabilities makes this subject an issue of deep and current concern to the whole corporate community. Such varied sources as the SEC, the courts, Ralph Nader, Professor Stone, Authur Goldberg, and others have made suggestions for reform ranging from federal chartering to placing outside and public directors on boards, with separate staffs to serve these outside board members. If we are to preserve our present free-enterprise system, then we must work quickly to develop our corporate boards into effective operating units.
Many companies try to connect strategy with the financial plans that actually guide managers' actions, but only a few have devised good linkages. In this case study, the authors describe the steps taken by one organization to integrate strategic and financial planning.
Competition, consolidation, and couponing have made consumers savvier and brand loyalty shakier. As a result, nurturing the all-important brand demands a new level of creativity and an increased attention to strategy. Often it means a closer look at logos and package design.
Here, the author describes some key differences between European and U.S. managers and provides a strategy for successful collaboration. These differences could prove crucial for U.S. companies seeking to take advantage of the newly emerging opportunities in Europe.
Understanding the fundamental identity of one's company—the source of its traditions and shared values—can help explain and foreshadow success and failure in business. In fact, it may be the principal internal influence on the company.
Managers are often asked to consolidate and improve their organization's strengths without taking undue risks. The techniques and models of risk analysis can help managers chart a course through today's increasing uncertainty.
Corporate America has never been as engrossed in the techniques and formulas of competitive analysis and strategy as it has been over the last 10 to 15 years. At the same time that U.S. firms were losing large parcels of strategic ground to Japanese and German companies, prominent organizations and individuals throughout American business were busy lining up behind a number of popular business theories, most notably:
Business leaders in Japan, Western Europe, and Latin America believe that the chief executives who lead their companies into the twenty‐first century will have to be fluent in several languages, have extensive international business experience, and will have to cope with an increasing level of international competition. The Japanese leaders considered foreign competition as the primary threat—hence, their emphasis on the importance of language skills and global experience.
Because the planning process is where change originates, planners are in a unique position to provide leadership. Here are some techniques that planners can use to drive the productivity improvement process.
Global pharmaceutical mergers have spread the huge costs of research and enabled companies to sell their products in countries where they previously lacked a presence. Here's how the Beecham-SmithKline Beckman marriage was developed to propel the organization into a position as a worldwide player in the drug industry.