The “C” of strategy
Strategy is about choices. These choices are not easy to make and the question that comes through always is where do you start.
There are basically three Cs that matter - Capabilities, Customers and Competitors (more broadly the environment a.k.a Porters five forces). One view of strategy is that the environment and the structure of the industry matter, hence, look at competitors and other forces. The other view of strategy is your capabilities matter. What are you good at? Make your strategy based on that. The third and more radical view is the focus on customer. As Drucker suggests : The purpose of a business is to create a customer.
In this process, you have a Create role - the vision and values that guide what you and why you do it.The final outcome for social impact work is change. An individual whose life is better because of the work you do.
In summary, you use your create lens to make choices about - Customers, Competitors and Capabilities. Where do you start? Lets take a look at Apple.
Ben Bajarin on Apple’s Strategy:
The broad claims that are made about what Apple should do are almost always based a round competitive reasons. Folks claim that because Apple’s competition is doing something that Apple should also or they will lose. Yet what I love about Apple’s strategy is that it is never around what the competition is doing. Apple marches to beat of their own drum. This is fundamentally mis-understood by so many. In fact, Apple’s strategy is best understood within the view that internally they literally believe they have no competition ( I personally believe this also but that’s the subject of a much longer essay.) Apple has customers not competition. The decisions they make as a company are not based around what their competition is doing but around what is best for their customers. Like it or not, this is their strategy.
In the start up world, the work of Steve Blank, Eric Ries, Ash Maurya and others has pushed forward this idea of focus on customers, not competitors. This is most uncommon for large organisations. In some sense, that is why Apple is special.
For social impact, it is a no brainer. You have to start with customers. You have to think about what is value for them and how you can create change. For that, you have to go outside your office. How do we do that? Lean Startups and Design Thinking.