Leading Blog






04.25.16

Making Sense of Speed, Agility and Innovation

Leading Forum
This is a post by Jeffrey Phillips and Alex Verjovsky authors of Outmaneuver: OutThink, don’t OutSpend

Every executive knows that speed is important. Meg Whitman at Hewlett-Packard declared recently that “the future belongs to the fast.” But is speed enough? If you can simply accelerate the current activities, products and strategies that your business implements, will that help you win in the future?

Or what about being more “agile.” Agile was originally a software technique, meant to shorten software development times and make the development team more accountable to customer needs. From there, everyone is adopting the concept of “agile.” There’s agile marketing, introduced by thought leaders at CMG. Can agile help you win more? Of course. Is it, by itself, enough? Probably not.

Or, think about innovation. There’s probably no other topic that has the same level of emphasis across industries and geographies. Everyone knows innovation is important. But again, if you can innovate successfully, is that enough? Do any of these factors, by themselves, help your company win?

We believe that each of these factors is important, but left to themselves, implemented in a discrete fashion, without integration or coordination they won’t make a significant difference. But if you could create a framework in which each of these activities were a vital component leading to a completely new way to compete, then you’d see a significant impact on your revenues, profits and market share.

Maneuver Strategy

Fortunately, such an integrated framework exists. In our book OutManeuver we detail a new competitive strategy that leverages speed, agility, insight and innovation to win the most at the least possible cost. Maneuver stands in opposition to existing “attrition” strategy, where firms fight expensive battles over small differences in market share based on essentially similar products. Feature to feature competition fought over a fixed market leads to commoditization and price wars, ignoring differentiators like speed, agility and innovation that may open new markets or create new alternatives.

Maneuver, like attrition, is a military strategy that has been adapted to business competition, yet to date attrition has been the predominant business strategy. That’s because attrition requires less planning and less insight, and is often easier to implement initially, because it simply copies what competitors are doing and seeks to damage or destroy competitors. Maneuver, on the other hand, seeks to identify and win valuable but unoccupied markets, segments or channels, or, if attacking a competitor is required, discovering vulnerabilities that can be exploited at the least possible cost. Thus, while attrition requires little upfront thinking, it has a high cost of implementation, while maneuver requires more reconnaissance and intelligence and has a lower cost of execution.

The “what” and the “why”

In truth, factors like speed, agility and innovation aren’t all that valuable by themselves. They are enablers to a larger capability – maneuver strategy. Many corporations are focusing on the “how” – more speed, more agility and more innovation, without thinking about the “why.” Speed, agility and innovation aren’t required in an attrition strategy, but are definitely important in a maneuver strategy. But without the appropriate strategy, speed, agility and innovation may not pay off. OutManeuver develops the importance and applicability of maneuver strategy, and demonstrates how to use enablers like speed, agility, insight and innovation to win more at the least possible cost. So, the next time someone tells you that the “future belongs to the fast,” or that you must increase your innovation output, ask them about their strategy. If your corporate strategy is based on attrition, there’s little need for more speed or innovation, because attrition is an expensive but broad based battle against incumbents. Instead, you could assist with a rethinking of strategy, to introduce maneuver strategy and tactics, which will leverage speed, agility and innovation and reinforce new strategic thinking, to win more at less cost.

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Leadership
Jeffrey Phillips and Alex Verjovsky are the authors of Outmaneuver: OutThink, don’t OutSpend. Phillips leads OVO Innovation, an innovation consulting company in Raleigh, NC. Verjovsky is a consultant, an entrepreneur, and a pioneer in the biodiesel market.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:58 PM
| Comments (0) | This post is about Leading Forum



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