Five ways to build a unique strategy

Mar 12 2012 by Andre de Waal Print This Article

An important characteristic of High Performance Organizations (HPOs) is continuous improvement and renewal. And a key element of achieving this is having a unique strategy.

Unique is defined as 'of which there is only one, unequalled, having no like or equal.' In many industries it is difficult to develop a strategy that is truly different from competitors as many of them basically sell the same type of products and services. However, the manner in which these are sold and the attitude toward customers can be hugely different.

Therefore the management of High Performance Organizations find uniqueness both in content and execution of the organizational strategy. They build this strategy gradually and consequently, thereby creating widespread opportunities and breakthroughs. They are consciously developing many new options and alternatives to compensate for dying strategies.

Here are five things you can do to establish the conditions favorable for creating a unique strategy:

1. Redefine the industry you are operating in so the minds of people are broadened and more possibilities emerge. For instance, Southwest Airlines says it is not in the airline business but in the freedom business, and Umpqua Bank states it is not in banking but in retailing.

2. Let your people think consciously about and then articulate what makes working at the organization a unique experience, and what makes the organization stand out from the competition.

3. Hire people from outside the industry, to get fresh ideas. Practice branchmarking, by looking what HPOs in other industries do you can get inspired. Also realize that you don't always have to be the first with an idea: you don't always have to be original as long as you are the different in your industry.

4. Develop your own language and symbols which express the uniqueness of the organization to the people and to the customers (if you think differently about your business, then you also talk differently about the business).

5. Spend time on teaching your new management and employees about the uniqueness of the organization. Establish an internal university to safeguard the continuous learning process.

Why not share your suggestions how an organization could start to create a unique strategy!


About The Author

Andre de Waal
Andre de Waal

Dr Andre A. de Waal MBA is Associate Professor of Strategic Management at the Maastricht School of Management and Academic Director of the HPO Center (Center for Organizational Performance), an organization that researches and gives advice about high performance organizations.