The Principles of Lean Strategy Deployment

Why should you care about strategy deployment?

Because it is a practical tool for improvement that can strengthen competitive advantage and bring higher returns for less money and less risk to any company in any function at any level.

You may be leading a manufacturing firm navigating the deep turbulent waters of a storm brought on by low-cost competition from home or abroad, or the marketing department of a service provider or even the sales force of a company with a unique product which currently provides a competitive advantage and the revenue and profit margins that go with it. Whatever the case may be, every business organization is faced with the challenge of executing their strategies in a constantly changing, uncertain and unpredictable business environment.

For just about every business leader, if the storm has not already hit, it could be just over the horizon.

A quote from Danny Meyer, founder of Union Square Café in New York City, may have captured the essence of the challenge:

"If you simply have a superior product or deliver on your promises, that is not enough to distinguish your business. There will always be someone else who can do it as well as you can. Its how you make the customer "feel" while using your product (or service) that distinguishes you. It's the experience." [1]

A paradigm shift has taken place in the B2B business world from focus on the individual offering to a comprehensive customized experience. Analysis of business enterprises have revealed several fundamental premises that provide a view of the terrain: [2]

  • The application of specialized skills and knowledge is the fundamental unit of exchange
  • Goods are distribution mechanisms for customized experiences
  • Knowledge is the fundamental source of competitive advantage
  • The customer is always a co-creator of value
  • Achieving a differentiating total experience requires a customer-centric approach versus product-centric, and is relational

The capacity to change is the new equilibrium. Eight of ten organizations perceive the pace of change is speeding up. [3]

These realities mean a move away from the exchange of tangible goods and disengaged services to intangible assets: specialized skills, knowledge, and processes. But creating value from intangible assets is different and requires a management system that augments the traditional approach. The greatest value comes when knowledge management is linked to the strategy and value proposition of the organization.

Often the term lean conjures up the thought of a toolbox that can be applied to manufacturing operations to cut costs. But lean thinking begins by defining value and keeps the ship focused on True North -- how the customer perceives value. 

Creating a differentiating experience requires that all the moving parts of the unit or organization have common assumptions about the external environment and a common understanding -- all hands on board know what the others are doing.

Synchronization includes matching the goals of the interdependent parts and linking their priorities with other parts.

Deployment is the synchronizing navigation system that will harness the enormous power of the intangible engine and guide the ship to the blue ocean space - the wider deeper potential of market space that is not yet explored. [4]

  1. Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business
  2. Vargo and Lusch
  3. ("Agility and resistance in the Face of Continuous Change:"… American Management Association)
  4. Blue Ocean Strategy W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne
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