THE MANILA TIMES
Monday, September 01, 2003
LEARNING AND INNOVATION
By Moje Ramos-Aquino
Choose your driving force
How do you swat a fly or a mosquito?
No, you don’t swat at where they are because by the time your swatter reaches its target area, the fly or mosquito would have happily moved away and buzzed your eardrums in retaliation. This is reactive. That’s akin to fire, ready, aim!
Rather, you get ready and aim at where they are going first. You anticipate and pro-act.
That might as well be the basis for our planning which is defined as not about what you will do in the future; it is about what you will do now to make the future all you want it to be. It is acting in advance of critical change. But thinking precedes planning.
My friend Liza Hizon asks how will you know where they are going? How will you know which is their tail and which is their head? Well, you observe. Watch. Scan your environment. You think ahead before you attack. In business, we do strategic thinking first. It is not just a matter of swatting one lonesome fly or mosquito, but it is exterminating the whole swarm and their habitat.
Strategic thinking is done by maintaining focus, thinking long terms, sorting out which is important versus what is ‘noise’ and acting accordingly. It is deciding on your driving force and areas of excellence, scanning the environment (internal and external), defining your vision, mission and values, exploiting your positives, and determining your strategic goals for the long haul. It precedes any planning—strategic, operational/tactical or action planning. Strategic thinking is opportunistic and exploitative.
Why are flies and mosquitoes still thriving today while the dinosaur is now extinct? What makes them tick? What drives them to pursue life relentlessly?
We focus on your driving force in this leg of your journey on entrepreneurship.
Some strategic questions you might ask of your business: What determines which users/customers are sought and which are not? What determines which products and services are offered and which are not? What determines which market segments are pursued and which are not? The answer to these important questions are critical factor in thinking strategically. It is called your driving force.
The driving force of your business is your final filter when deciding which of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats are most critical to your business.
Michel Robert writes in his book, Strategy Pure & Simple: “What is it that determines the nature of the products, customers, market segments and geographic areas that a company pursues and those that it does not? How does management decide which of these it seeks to pursue and not to pursue?” The answer to these vital questions, Robert said is the concept of driving force, which is the most important element of thinking strategically.
The driving force is what motivates your organization to do what it has to do, to pursue specific products and services, customers and markets and eventually evolve into that distinct identity and acquire a certain personality of its own. It is what gives your business the momentum, the push to seek its preferred direction.
Robert asserts that an organization has only one driving force. This key component of your business is the heart of your organization’s business that gives it an edge in the market place.
In the said book he listed 10 important and strategic areas of your organization. He said that although all 10 of these components are present in most organizations, only one of these are strategically most important to your company and the engine that propels or drives your company forward to success. For today’s column we shall mention three of the strategic organizational drivers.
Product/service concept-driven strategy
This is the driving force of a company whose whole business revolves around one single product. Although this company might have several product lines, they are the simply variations or modifications of derivatives of the same product. Car companies are the best example. Toyota, Volvo, Honda and others produce nothing but automobiles. Different make and models; but still they are all automobiles with the same look and function. Its line of food products are what drives Mekeni Food Products to success.
User/customer class-driven strategy
A user/customer class-driven company is one that tries to satisfy the related needs of the class of end users that it wants to pursue. Johnson & Johnson has pledged to serve the health-related needs of its chosen customers—doctors, patients and mothers. J&J products might seem varied and unrelated, but they are all made for their preferred customers. Recently, they have added a new group of users to this list–babies, all ages and sizes. Therefore, they have added new products like face powder.
Market type/Category-driven strategy
Unlike the user-customer class-driven company, market-type/category-driven companies pursue specific market category, not a set of end-users. From its name alone, American Hospital Supply, you can already tell that its business is tied to hospitals. They endeavor to satisfy the varied needs of its chosen market. Their product range is wide and equally varied from bedpans to sutures to gauze pads to electronic imaging systems and others.
We shall discuss the seven other possible strategic drivers of organizations next columns.
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Ms. Moje Ramos-Aquino is president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp. and helps companies develop and implement strategies and plans. She could be reached at email@example.com