It has been my observation that most companies develop strategies that are essentially variations of what they (or their competitors) are doing currently, or have done in the past.  To meet big growth objectives, this has never been a recipe for success.  Nevertheless, most managers find it very difficult to break out of the prevailing approach to strategy development.

Most of the work I do with my clients involves them having to step outside their ‘box of conventional thinking’ and take on different perspectives.  Sometimes referred to as ‘outside-in thinking,’ it encourages managers to put themselves in the shoes of existing and new customers, and to look for opportunities based on behaviours.  An often-used example is how Starbucks created an alternative to the home and work for people to go to conduct their daily business tasks.

I have found that three of the more valuable tools to create this experience and so develop innovative and effective strategies include;

  1. Challenge existing assumptions.  There are long held views on why, when and how customers buy a brand or product.  Challenging these views often uncovers assumptions that may no longer be true, as a result of changes in lifestyle or attitudes, thereby creating fresh opportunities.
  2. Re-frame the customer profile.  Rather than classify or consider them through a socio-economic framework, examine their behavioural routines.  Knowing how often they exercise or eat out may provide clues as to how and when your product or service can fit into their lives. For example, Arnott’s have been very successful in creating snacking opportunities for their iconic lines.
  3. Step into a different category.  Identify other products and services your customers commonly utilise outside your category, and then consider how you can adopt or adapt the successful strategies of these companies.  You know your customers are already favourably disposed to these ideas, and chances are you will be the first in your category to do this.

If you have big growth targets and require innovative strategies to effectively deliver them, the above three tools will provide a fresh impetus.  You could also give us a call to help you determine the most appropriate tools for your particular business.

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Ted Doraisamy