360 Degree Service Strategy

PICT0055Last week before my body and mind decided that enough was enough I was lucky enough to spend some time with Stu working on a periodic refresh of our Workplace Strategy.  The focus so far has been on defining the scope of the strategy and working with our key partners to capture their roadmaps and a lot of good progress has been made.

My contribution to the meeting was to review progress so far and to offer up some of the frameworks that I’ve used in the past and come across more recently that help to develop a strategy from a more holistic or 360 perspective than can be achieved just through tracking product roadmaps.

The simplest of all frameworks is perhaps that provided by Maslow in his hierarchy of needs.  The framework can be used, and abused, for so many purposes including strategy.  At the lowest tier being things that a company has to do just to stay alive, in the higher tiers the things that it does to truly differentiate itself and add value to it’s customers.

Then there’s a simple lifecycle model, which you can use to ask yourself  how can we help customers make best use of the services that they already have, extend the reach of services they have, or provide new services that solve new problems.

Then there’s approaches that challenge our thinking, like asking yourself what the world will look like between now and 5 years time, what businesses do we need to start nurturing today, so they are industrial scale in 3-5 years time.  Alternatively list all the rules/constraints the stops us adding value or opening up new markets and then brainstorm how to break them.

But my favourite framework for 360 strategic thinking is to populate a simple 6*4 matrix that looks like this:

Maintain Mature Harvest Nurture Replace New
Differentiate
Grow
Protect revenue
Protect Margin

Across the top we have a lifecycle, activities that maintain our existing services, mature existing services, harvest ideas to extend/enhance existing services, nurture embryonic ideas that we or our customers are already investing in, replace existing services, create new ones.

Down the side we track the impact each activity will make, will it protect our existing margins by cutting costs, protect our existing revenues, grow our business in commodity areas, or truly differentiate us. Although often differentiating services or features are like the sprinkles on top of the commodity sponge cake, i.e. we don’t sell them on their own.

There are lots of cool ways to use this framework, which I won’t go into in this blog, but anyone at work who wants examples can email.

Finally I always like to keep this point in mind:

A good strategy is resilient to the uncertainties that we face in the marketplace, or the uncertainties in our ability to execute it.  I’ve lived through lots of examples where we were caught out because we convinced ourselves we could execute flawlessly and failed, or didn’t predict a disruptive technology (Like Android’s) rapid rise.

Steve Richards

I'm retired from work as a business and IT strategist. now I'm travelling, hiking, cycling, swimming, reading, gardening, learning, writing this blog and generally enjoying good times with friends and family

1 Response

  1. May 15, 2014

    […] down the dimensions of the strategy but this post refines the approach little and builds on a an earlier post, whilst only providing a rough sketch of the content (so as not to give anything […]

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