The Organizational Strategist

January 3, 2014

Make Your New Year A Success

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — Whit @ 7:28 pm


The New Year is upon us! This is the exiting time when we can refresh and restart as we look forward into the coming year. It is a good time to rejoice on your accomplishments, celebrate your achievements, and bask in the tales of your adventures. At the same time, honor your relationships and partnerships, the struggles and challenges you’ve endured and experienced, and the losses you sustained. Essentially, use this time to come to terms with what happened in the ups and downs of the year’s activities. This helps set the stage for the New Year.

-Review, Reflect, Dream, Define, Plan-

As with personal or corporate strategy, it is good to take a pause to ensure your new objectives, plans, and goals are well aligned and properly set up for execution. What is important to avoid would be the latest technology or business fads that have no real substance. That can be tough to gauge without investing some time and experimentation, but be sure to balance the efforts. We do not want to be simply joining the crowd of people who join a new gym as a part of a New Year’s goal that has no real traction. Here’s a set of steps to pull together your approach:

Review – Take stock of your past goals and see how well you did or did not progress toward achievement.

Reflect – What went well? What did not go well? If you repeat a goal, what would you do differently?

Dream – Ponder and discover what new activities and adventures you could and should undertake for this coming year.

Define – Of those dreams, what makes sense to focus on and start undertaking? It may be that some dreams are perpetual or may take a long, dedicated effort to achieve.

Plan – Set out the details to realize your goals in all of the manners that make sense (noting what people involvement is needed, articulating what the goal is and means, breaking goals down into tasks/activities, etc.).

In pulling together your goals, I’ve long been a fan of SMART goals. While the acronym can have many variations, I use the definitions of Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time bound. By using that structure it makes ambiguous aspirations into concrete goals that others can grasp. Beyond that, I often add the ER at the end making them SMARTER goals. This ER stands for Engaging and Rewarding. Why I add those in is because the goals that suit yourself, your needs/interests, and your style for motivation and energizing make them much more likely to be successful.

The ideal goals are ones that have mutually beneficial outcomes with other efforts (be they organizational, familial, personal, and so on) so that any support, resources, or other progress made pays off in multiple ways. Of course, these steps are iterative and may need to involve discussions, revisions, reviews, and so on to finalize and set the more intricate plans in motion. The more others are involved and the more challenging they may be, the more it helps to articulate the best path forward.


New Year’s resolutions are a form of a professional and/or personal check point and course correction to shaping your future. Like other strategic approaches, using a disciplined, thorough, and engaging approach makes it all the more successful in the future. Good luck with your 2014 and may it be a very successful and happy one!


March 23, 2010

Know Where and How to Play: Assessing an Industry through Porter’s 5 Forces

Filed under: Strategy — Tags: , , , , , , , — Whit @ 11:10 am


Business strategy is often a loosely defined term in an organization. There can be market strategy, product strategy, business unit strategy, web strategy, gaming strategy and so much more. Because of the various approaches, meanings and applications of different forms of strategy, it can be a challenging topic to cover. The strategy that I feel is the most important is enduring strategy, as I’ve defined it here. To be clear for this blog, I will always aim to use the word strategy with the same meaning as I classified enduring strategy or be straightforward when I am not speaking of enduring strategy.

One way to have all strategic design participants to understand the same language, approach, and influences is to start the dialogues on strategy at a broad, foundational level. This can be done with an assessment of the relevant industry where the organization will strive to win. Since an industry evaluation is so broad and encompassing, the many different angles that participants come from should be included. This kind of exercise creates the underpinning for common understanding and more thorough planning.

-Discussing the 5 Forces-

Michael Porter, a famous business and organizational strategist, has a handful of strategic tools and approaches. One he is well known for is his Five Forces Analysis. The 5 Forces looks into the five different influences on an industry. Each force has a short series of investigation points to be evaluated. From those points the overall influence of the force on an industry can be determined.  The 5 Forces, listed with a sampling of investigation points, are as follows:

Threat of substitute products or services

  • Likelihood of buyers to switch products/services
  • Ease and ability of buyers to swap products/services

Threat of new entrants

  • Capital requirements
  • Importance of brand recognition/reputation
  • Legal or regulatory barriers to starting up
  • Resource availability

Intensity of competition

  • Number, size, and concentration of competitors
  • Degree of differentiation
  • Amount of industry growth

Bargaining power of customers

  • Customer industry concentration in comparison to supplier industry concentration
  • Distribution access (geography, gateways, number of suppliers)
  • Price sensitivity

Bargaining power of suppliers

  • Supplier ability to influence ease of forward integration
  • Supplier industry concentration in comparison to customer industry concentration

Going through a 5 Forces analysis will give an overall understanding of the ease or difficulty to get involved in a particular industry. The tougher the industry is to enter, the easier it is to defend. The less substitute products or services that are available, the easier it is for industry participants to set prices as they see fit. The higher the number of competitors in an industry, the need for differentiation is also increased. With low bargaining power of customers and suppliers, industry participants can exert more control and direction with their products and services. The influence of these points and many more can be discovered from doing a 5 Forces analysis. Once the overall picture of the industry is available, an organization can compare what resources and capabilities it has available to what kind of effort it would take to be become involved in the industry.


This analysis can be helpful as a baseline for a strategy or to assess how appealing an industry would be for an organization to move into. In this capacity it is good for both existing strategies and for creating new ones. I suggest this approach as a means of understanding the bird’s eye perspective of an industry. Even though each strategic dialogue participant may be a different bird, searching for their own opportunities, knowing the lay of the land will provide valuable insight into where and how to approach the targeted opportunities.


Organizational Strategist Enduring Strategy:

Wikipedia entry on 5 Forces:

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