After much practice and anticipation, the competition for MikesBikes has finally started. I was a good feeling making our decisions for this first rollover as opposed to the first practice rollover which was more nerve-wracking because our whole team was more confident this time round. We also learnt from some of our mistakes during the practice rollover and fixed these mistakes which resulted in our teaming coming first in our world for the first rollover. Here's hoping that our strategy is unique enough to see us through to the end of MikesBikes somewhere at the top of the table, if not, first.
With regards to the readings, I found the whole idea of a "strategy canvas" (Kim and Mauborgne, 2002) really interesting because having done a Strategic Marketing paper where we had a group assignment that involved coming up with a written strategic plan, I fully understand why it is perceived as 'muddle' by executives. It involves a lot of research and once complete, it is just pages and pages of reading of complex terms, graphs and diagrams that are slightly overwhelming. Something that is easier to read and understand would work to the advantage of many companies trying to come up with strategies that have a different focus to that of other companies within the same market.
While Kim and Mauborgne (2002) put a lot of emphasis on competition in 'Charting your company's future', it is interesting to see that in contrast, 'Blue Ocean Strategy' points out that focusing too much on the competitors hinders opportunities for discovering Blue Oceans (Kim and Mauborgne, 2004). It seems as though the author's contradict themselves in these two readings but I guess companies would need to strike a balance between focusing intensely on competitors to have a unique strategy, while also taking the time to look at opportunities in untouched markets. Although I do understand why it would be hard for companies to divert their focus away from competitors and the rivalry that exists between competitors - the satisfaction of winning against others would, in my opinion, feel much better than simply moving to a new market with little or no competition. This is basically what it is like with MikesBikes, each week when we rollover, our team looks to see which of the other competitors we beat and when we come top of our world like this we did this week, it gives us all a feeling of dominance - something we hope to maintain over the rest of the semester.
All this talk about strategy and reading all about it this week was good, but I have to admit that when it actually comes down to developing a strategy and officially sticking to one, it proves to be somewhat more challenging. When thinking back to last weeks reading about 'gut instincts' (Buchanan and O'Connell, 2006) I feel like, even for someone like me who hates making wrong choices, this idea of relying on gut instincts can still takes over when it is time to identify a strategy - because the thought of going through the traditional strategic planning process of constructing some large document is just daunting. As I stated before, having attempted something similar in a previous class, I can understand why only a handful of strategic plans are put into action. However after reading about Kim and Mauborgne's (2002) visual strategy canvas I think it would be a really useful tool in the future as opposed to writing extensive reports for strategic planning. I think some aspects of the four steps of Visualising strategy (Visual Awakening, Visual Exploration, Visual Strategy Fair, and Visual Communication) are still similar to the traditional written document - namely Visual Awakening and Visual Exploration. Because these steps still involve looking at all the competitors, customers, advantages of products/services etc. All these are essential when trying to come up with a strategy however with the Visualising strategy it's a much more clear-cut to see where the problems may lie and what changes need to be made as was demonstrated with the EFS example in 'Charting your company's future'. I am much more of a visual person so I think forming a strategy canvas as opposed to a long written report would be much more beneficial for me in order to make sure that I use a more systematic method for developing a strategy (especially once I finish university as I plan to pursue a career in Marketing). Nonetheless I do realise that even when developing a strategy canvas, it is not much easier than the traditional method. So in order to improve my ability to go through the strategic planning processes I think I need to be more patient, improve my research skills to analyse the market and identify competition, and focus on sticking to something like Kim and Mauborgne's (2002) strategy canvas process so as to avoid giving into the temptation of using gut instinct when making assumptions about strategy planning.
Kim, W. C. & Mauborgne, R. (2004). Blue ocean strategy. Harvard Business Review, 82(10), 75--84
Kim, W. C. & Mauborgne, R. (2002). Charting your company's future. Harvard Business Review, 80(6), 76--83
Buchanan, L. & O'Connell, A. (2006). A brief history of decision making. Harvard Business Review, 84(1), 32--41