An underrated part of strategy is just reducing the business model and its key drivers down to something really simple. And then aggressively aligning activities toward maximising the execution of this over time.
And, for the first four decades or so, Walmart became the best in the world at doing exactly that: using the square footage it had in each store as effectively as possible, stocking it with good quality merchandise at the lowest possible prices, and maintaining sufficient inventory to satisfy the resulting customer demand. All of the complexity and innovation that happened in the background was in service of each store’s merchandising efforts. The satellite communication system helped headquarters make sure that inventory was always in stock, helped one store learn from another store’s experimentation with product assortment and pricing. The trucking fleet delivered the inventory quickly and efficiently in order to make sure that stores had the inventory they needed for their customers, and cost-effectively so they could maintain the lowest possible prices. Computerized POS systems let customers check out quickly, or, in the event that they had to bring something back, return items as painlessly as possible.
Source: What is Amazon? | Zack’s notes
When form trumps function.
Cupertino, California, 2007. Steve Jobs had been carrying a prototype of the first iPhone in his pocket and found his keys were scratching the plastic. “I won’t sell a product that gets scratched,” he insisted.
So, instead, Apple built one that shattered.
Ten years later, the iPhone X launched as a device so fragile it’s at the edge of usability. Tech review site Squaretrade called it the “most breakable phone ever.” Almost half of all iPhone owners have broken their screens, not just once but an average of two times each. The cost of repair is astronomical: Out of warranty, a new iPhone X screen will set you back $279. Repairing the glass back of the phone costs an extraordinary $549.
Source: The Price of Perfection – Member Feature Stories – Medium
The world also began to go through something like the Cambrian Explosion, as the internet lowered the cost of collaboration and invention to nearly zero, creating an explosion of new ideas and products.
Source: The Next Great (Digital) Extinction | WIRED
A great article on what it is like to care about a craft.
This sentiment is also true of consultants and designers. The number of ‘strategy’ consultants who know close to nothing about the history and craft of strategy – and more to the point, don’t seem to think this is a problem – is consistently mind-blowing.
One of the things that I love about Ricky is his continued amazement at how little magicians seem to care about the art. Intellectually, Ricky seems to understand this, but emotionally he can’t accept it. He gets as upset about this problem today as he did twenty years ago.”
Source: Ricky Jay’s Magical Secrets
Such a fundamental point that goes unacknowledged by so many incumbents. The implications are enormous.
At the same time, competition is dramatically higher as well; customer choices used to be constrained by geography and limited channels for advertising: you could choose one mass-market product from conglomerate X, or a strikingly similar product from conglomerate Y. Today, though, you can find multiple products from any number of vendors, some large and many more small, the latter of which are particularly adept at using channels like Facebook to reach specific niches that were never well-served by large enterprises designed to serve everyone.
Source: The Experience Economy – Stratechery by Ben Thompson
Because it’s the connections, not the nodes.
When a company hires a star, the star’s performance plunges, there is a sharp decline in the functioning of the group or team the person works with, and the company’s market value falls. Moreover, stars don’t stay with organizations for long, despite the astronomical salaries firms pay to lure them away from rivals. For all those reasons, companies cannot gain a competitive advantage by hiring stars from outside the business. Instead, they should focus on growing talent within the organization and do everything possible to retain the stars they create. As we shall show in the following pages, companies shouldn’t fight the star wars, because winning could be the worst thing that happens to them.
Source: The Risky Business of Hiring Stars