Normally, we think of a business strategy comprising the mission, vision, and values of a firm. Strategic plans are operational and tactical, often with a three to five year outlook. However, what happens if your strategy isn’t working? Or, if you sense a strong competitive threat? A new book by Lisa Bodell, “Kill the Company,” offers some advice for organizations that are stuck in a rut of incremental improvement.
Firms can easily be seduced into a culture of complacency when their strategy is working. Yet, the industry, competitors, and customers can change rapidly. One way to shake up the strategy is with a tool from Lisa’s book – literally, killing the company from within.
This strategic exercise goes beyond a traditional strategic threats analysis. Results of competitive analyses usually leave the firm with plenty of data; however, the outcomes of kill the company are immediately actionable.
Here’s how it works. The company plays the role of a competitor who desires to put their own company out of business. With their inside knowledge, the team can focus on weak points and enhance the firm’s own strengths.
For instance, one outcome of a kill the company exercise might note that the firm’s distribution system is particularly weak and competition can put the company out of business with faster and more efficient shipping. Recognizing this weakness, management can tackle the distribution chain before it becomes a strategic threat.
Kill the company can help a firm recognize strategic pathways that other brainstorming tools cannot. It is a surprisingly effective communication tool as workers are more energized to “kill the company” than they are to make long lists of competitive weaknesses and threats to the firm.
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