Liberate Strategy from the TOOLBOX approach!

Use Metaphors!

To get back the richness of strategy, we must liberate it from the toolbox approach. 
Unfortunately, so many management books and – self-titled – Strategy Consultants still use this approach to arrive at a generic solution in the end. Unfortunately, such a result of a Strategy Process is worthless! Generic tools lead to generic solutions. Not more, not less.
Good news is, there are more advanced methodologies and approaches to Strategy. Here is one of them.
One way of broadening the way one thinks about strategy is to bridge the gap between
business and other disciplines. Ideas from the world outside business can be made useful for
the Strategy Process via metaphorical associations. Use insights from every field that is at hand – whether they derive from business or from history, philosophy, anthropology, dance, or any other academic field. Stimuli
that are external to business can add richness, freedom, and creativity to Strategy. Coming up with Ideas, solutions competition does not see. This is one possible way to develop superior and relevant options for creating new success potentials.

Example: Madonna + Strategy

In the following we will analyze the key success factors that have secured Madonna great
popularity and loyalty of her fans. There are four strategic and an ambitious goal. That goal is: become a superstar – stay a superstar!
(1) Understand your market.
Few stars have understood the mechanisms of the music market and how to market oneself
as well as Madonna. She understands her competitive environment perfectly, knows exactly
what the market wants and what she needs to give. She is also critical in her assessment of
her own resources and can reinvent herself repeatedly, helping her to surprise customers
time and again with ‘‘product innovations’’.
(2) Purpose
Behind her music lies an overarching Belief, her North Star. It is that great element that unites her and her listeners through common shared values! For example: one important strategic aspect is the balance between provocation and commerce, but still staying respectable without endanger her own success. 
(3) Innovation
Adjust to an ever-changing environment.
Madonna possesses the ability to continually reinvent herself, to assume an image that is
cool, successful, sexy, and exciting. She has gone from street look to glam rock,
from Marilyn Monroe look-alike to retro, to S&M, to grande dame, to nonchalance, to the
military look, and finally to the H&M collection.
Madonna’s fans will never be bored and Madonna will never be redundant. Rather, Madonna’s strategy is more
a case of quickly picking up on the weak signals of emerging trends and riding these trends
so that we think Madonna herself is the trend.
Products come and products go. In business we speak of product life cycles that trace the
rise and fall of a product. 
But that sort of thing does not seem to happen to Madonna. The new product cycle that
displaces the old Madonna product cycle is also of Madonna origin. Madonna anticipates
and counters this displacement within herself, thus ensuring she never becomes obsolete or
surplus to requirements. Her strategy is to become a superstar and stay a superstar. And the path towards that goal is to stage continuity in change.
(4) Marketing!
Brand wisely. Simply stated: ‘‘If Madonna’s on it, Madonna’s in it.’’
Successful branding distinguishes a
product. Through all the flexibility Madonna has shown in over 25 years in the music
business, her focused branding strategy is hard to miss. Madonna does not adapt to the market
to the extent that she becomes invisible or replaceable. Her trademarks such as coolness,
sex appeal, subtle provocation, and innovation are to be found in every new Madonna
album. She is not a product of a global recording company, neither is she a product of a TV
superstar competition, here one day, gone the next. Her success is the success of her own
efforts and her own planning. 
Tu sum it up.
It is important to be able to see the connection between good metaphor and the
business topic. Then strategic aspects may be illuminated in a way that expands
the vision of the business problem, hence enhancing Strategy through truly innovative ideas and solutions. 
Setting the agenda on strategy, value capture and innovation.
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