The most crucial aspect of planning any business strategy is to understand – and acknowledge – your current position in the marketplace. Once you know you’re on point A, then you can begin to formulate the necessary steps to get to point Z. The most efficient way of accomplishing this is by creating:
A Strategy Map
An effective strategy map needs to incorporate these three components:
- Product Lifecycle: these are the assets -- the goods and services you make available for sale.
- Market Lifecycle: this represents the types of customers that you’re selling to.
- Execution Lifecycle: your organization’s capability to develop products for your customers.
All three of these lifecycles need to be in alignment. If one of them is out of alignment, then your overall strategy won’t work. The first thing you’ll need to do with your product is:
- Pilot it (for Innovator customers): You don’t want a lot of bureaucracy or processes to slow things down during this phase. You want a lot of flexibility for these customers, who tend to get excited over a vision, as they see the world the same way you do and want to collaborate. Let them!
- Nail it (for Early Adopter customers): These customers have a pressing need for your product – they want it now and they don’t want to have to spend a lot of money to get it. They don’t care if you’re a Fortune 500 firm or a startup, they have a problem that needs a solution and you need to do everything you can to make that happen.
- Scale it (for Early Majority customers): This is when you combine the drive to produce results with systematizing how you sell, service and deliver efficiently. If you scale properly, this is what creates quality, efficiency and, ultimately, profitability in your business.
- Milk it (for Late Majority customers): Once you’ve accomplished a successful scale, you will have reached a kind of plateau in which you can begin to innovate once again in order to perpetuate your business and keep renewing it. As you develop new products for new markets, the execution lifecycle needs to change so that the new business unit is innovative once again.
And then, if necessary, kill it. You need to do each of these things -- in sequence -- to a certain type of customer. In any aspect of life or business, knowing where you are relative to where you want to be is the key to getting there. By realizing which part of this strategy map your business unit currently is at, you can see what your next step is to move forward and then grow accordingly.