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Nov 30, 2006

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Focus on your proven strategy

The Fox and the Cat,Aesop's fables

However much we believe ourselves to be a jack-of-all-trades,
we can surely identify one trade that we are better at,
something that we are proud of. Similarly, in our other decision
making approaches, business strategies and work processes,
there are bound to be some that have consistently worked well
for us. These tried and tested ones become our strengths, our
forte. They are unique to us and cannot be duplicated. While we
can acquire new skills and adopt new ideas, it is important that
we do not neglect the old ones. A business that is built on a
proven strategy should not abandon it and switch to a
completely new strategy overnight. As we shall read, having
one good workable plan is better than having many new
untested plans.

Story:

The Fox and the Cat

The Fox imageThe Cat image

A Fox was boasting to a Cat of its clever devices for escaping its
enemies. "I have a whole bag of tricks," he said, "which contains
a hundred ways of escaping my enemies."

"I have only one," said the Cat; "but I can generally manage with
that." Just at that moment they heard the cry of a pack of hounds
coming towards them, and the Cat immediately scampered up a
tree and hid herself in the boughs. "This is my plan," said the Cat.
"What are you going to do?" The Fox thought first of one way,
then of another, and while he was debating the hounds came
nearer and nearer, and at last the Fox in his confusion was caught
up by the hounds and soon killed by the huntsmen. Miss Puss,
who had been looking on, said:

"Better one safe way than a hundred on which you cannot reckon."

Moral:

One sure plan is better than a hundred options.

Kidding me:

Ah ... If you have a bag of tricks, be sure to label and catalog
them so that you can easily locate the appropriate one. Have
you not seen a lady emptying her handbag just to find her
lipstick?

Quotable Quotes:

“Should you pursue a highly focused approach,
betting everything on one strategic goal, or should
you hedge? ... Mark Twain hit it on the head when
he said, 'Put all of your eggs in one basket and
WATCH THAT BASKET.'” ... Andrew S. Grove

“Swing for hits, not home runs.” ... Michael Dell

“Anything worth doing is worth doing to excess.”
... Edwin Land

“The company sticks to what it knows, even though
the real opportunities may be elsewhere.”
... Gary Hamel

“There is only one winning strategy.” ... Philip Kotler

“Mold-breaking strategies grow initially like weeds,
they are not cultivated like tomatoes in a hothouse.”
... Henry Mintzberg

[browse collection of quotes and quotations]

Lessons in life:

Be focused. Do what you are best at. A business should
understand its key strength and work on strategies to beef it
up. Often, we are tempted by the success of other industry
players and enter into unfamiliar markets or employ new
strategies. The cost of new equipment, re-training of staff,
and marketing efforts usually do not yield profitable results.
To make matters worse, the resources, capital, and
manpower of the company may be redirected from the core
business into this new venture. In so doing, the profit from
the core business is eroded while the new venture faces an
uphill task breaking into a new market. There are of course
companies that have very diversified portfolio, although
often than not, they maintain a core competence which
accounts for a bulk of their returns. We have seen several
examples: MacDonald's selling fried chicken wings, Kentucky
Fried Chicken selling burgers, and most recently, Coca Cola
announcing that it will be selling coffee. Coca Cola has been
in the soft drinks business for so long that their name is
synonymous with that fizzy carbonated cola drink. If you
want to have a coffee, would you think of Starbucks or
Coca Cola? It is still early days to know whether they will
succeed although surely they have the financial might to
aggressively promote any new product. Generally, the proven
strategy that has worked for you is the one that you should
continue to use.

Related Articles:

Do not fear competition
Trust Gut Instincts and Intuition
Turn Adversity into Opportunity
Self Help, Perseverance and Success

Books worth reading:

Jim Collins presents an interesting perspective in his book,
Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and
Others Don't. Through his many examples, he identifies the
common denominator amongst all the great companies i.e.,
a corporate culture premised on finding and promoting
disciplined people. In his view, having great companies
doesn't require a high-profile CEO, the latest technology,
innovative change management, or any fine-tuned business
strategy. He introduces his Hedgehog Concept, a product
or service that is key to the company's greatness.

As well, find time to read this great book by Jack Welch,
Winning. Jack Welch is the legendary retired CEO of
General Electric. His book details his management style
and strategies in transforming General Electric from a
$4 billion market capitalization to one worth nearly
half a trillion dollars. Endorsements of his book come
from all the highly respected figures like Warren Buffett,
Bill Gates, Rudy Giuliani, and Tom Brokaw.

© Business Fables and Management Lessons

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2 comments:

Miller said...

Explained with good examples. good to be study...

David Morson said...

This story was too much interesting and amazing.
I enjoyed it.

A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVES

Perspective Perspective Perspective