1. Eagle’s direction sensing compassing skills are second to none!
While it is absolutely amazing to see how eagles fly under those wind thermals, it is equally impressive to see how eagles learn to maintain their sense of direction – leave alone reaching their final destination flawlessly - in almost all situations. How do they do that? Eagles – apparently, have a lens balancing fluid within their retina - and when they get off their intended track – the balancing fluid senses the misalignment and causes some kind of a pain in their neck- indicating that they have to change their course and get back to their original track. As it turns out – this in-built directional compass is what keeps them staying focused – and equally important – it is a great lesson for us to learn from as well– i.e. to learn to imbibe the directional mindset in our business strategies. Within the context of developing this compass driven strategies using our strengths/opportunities (or wind thermals)– I have put together a 10-box strategy model using the SWOTC analysis constructs - to help develop few laser focused directional strategies (as depicted in the diagram on the top of the page). It is a 5x5 matrix of SWOTC elements for our company on the column side and the competitor on the row side- with each box being filled with one of the following four strategy categories.
- Differentiation strategies are the “edgy” disruptive innovation strategies leveraging company’s strengths.
- Exploitation strategies are the “edgy” growth strategies to exploit competitor’s weaknesses/constraints.
- Prevention strategies are the defensive/preventive strategies to overcome company’s weaknesses/constraints.
- Mitigation strategies are the risk mitigation strategies to reduce company’s vulnerability from competitor’s threats.
2. Eagle’s effortless energy riding skills are one-of-its-kind!
Speaking of eagle’s energy sustaining effortless riding skills – as it turns out - this is one of the most important skills companies must learn to master at – learning to execute (or ride) the 10 box strategies efficiently - using repeatable processes, tools, techniques & templates very much like how eagles learn to ride the wind thermals effortlessly. More specifically, I recommend us taking a holistic energy/effort portfolio approach within the strategic planning process to effectively optimize the energy efforts (& sources) with a 3P (people, profit and purpose) mindset to get to that effortless riding mode. Following are the few pragmatic strategies to help us to get to the “almost zero marginal/emotional equity cost model” from both purpose and profit algorithms standpoint.
2.1 People dimension – leading to "almost zero marginal cost model" within profit algorithm
- Form teams with “right person for the right job with complementary skills” mindset with differentiated nurturing/reward schemes. Learn to differentiate skills from talent and talents from gifts and nurture/reward them accordingly. Please see my comments at one of the recent HBR blog (http://blogs.hbr.org/bigshift/2010/04/are-all-employees-knowledge-wo.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+harvardbusiness%2Fbigshift+(The+Big+Shift+on+HBR.org)&loomia_ow=t0%3As0%3Aa38%3Ag4%3Ar2%3Ac0.000000%3Ab0%3Az6.
- Encourage people to use repeatable processes, templates, tools and techniques in every part of their job within the value chain to achieve economies of scale and scope benefits.
- Develop the lifelong learner and train-the-trainer culture and encourage/reward knowledge management/sharing behaviors i.e. promote “not reinventing the wheel” mindset.
2.2 Profit (or Plant/Equipment) dimension - leading to "almost zero marginal cost model " within profit algorithm
- Classify the business processes within the value chain in to commodity, standard, transformational and value-add - and move towards the tapered integration based virtual enterprise model - i.e. leverage best in class providers to perform standard/commodity processes with well defined engagement model and service level agreements.
- Optimize the value chain – more specifically, focus first on the manufacturing and supply chain processes (including GTM) with measurable KPI’s - as performance is as good as your weakest link and so identifying those bottlenecks using techniques like lean/six sigma are paramount for achieving efficiency/effectiveness goals.
- Innovate with disruptive business models – specifically, by reducing the idle capacities resulting from seasonality, infrastructure gaps and the emerging equipments miniaturization trends (similar to what happened in computer industry).
2.3 Purpose dimension - leading to "almost zero emotional equity cost model " within purpose algorithm
- Energize the bottom of the pyramid with “social enterprise” minded product/service bundles they can afford. Project Shakti by Unilever is a great example (http://www.unilever.com/sustainability/casestudies/economic-development/creating-rural-entrepreneurs.aspx).
- Encourage healthy products and herbs from the region’s native plants and medicines and make it part and parcel of the products and services your firm sells.
- Elevate global understanding of critical externality based environmental issues (pollution, waste etc) with timely and functional innovative solutions. Please see some of my comments within the context of the recent externality debate within HBR (http://blogs.hbr.org/what-business-owes-the-world/2010/06/bp-the-gulf-and-the-great-exte.html).
3. Eagles preying skills are unmatchable!
As a result of flying under the wind thermals,-as it turns out- eagles can fly to heights that no other bird can. Apparently, eagles can fly as high as some of the modern airplanes can fly under perfect conditions. Equally interesting is the fact that eagles are also masters at zeroing in on their prey from a far apart distance (in some cases up to a mile apart) and then swooping down to catch them. In a way we can call them absolute masters at hunting down and catching their prey, whether it is on the land or in the water. Just as eagles are considered to be masters with how they can catch the prey (fishes in water or birds at land) – our strategies must outsmart our competitors with a perfect accuracy.
Bottom line: Why should we exhaust our energy when we can do that effortlessly by coming to terms with productive people, efficient processes and sustainable environments?