A fresh approach to strategy - especially relevant for b2b,
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Creating Value: Successful Business Strategies, Second Edition (Taschenbuch)
I have a 20-year-old article in my files. It's by Shiv Mathur and I originally found it in McKinsey Quarterly. Since then, I have wondered why this bright thinker did not publish more on strategy.
Well, now I have found the extended version in this 2001-book.
Beware! There are very many books on strategy and management out there, but not very many that are really insightful. My suggestion is that you pick this one next time ... especially if you work in b2b or industrial markets.
The real reason why I kept the original article is his work on differentiation, which is elaborated in chapter 5. Mathur and his co-author Kenyon outline 4 different ways of positioning a competitive strategy.
In a deceptively simple 4-square matrix they present four situations and their related strategies. The two dimensions are merchandise and support. Those features that customers see as differentiating how the seller helps them choosing, obtaining and then using the offering, constitute SUPPORT differentiation. All other features are MERCHANDISE differentiation. I my old article, I think Mathur used the terms hardware vs. software. Other authors sometimes use the dimensions of physical vs. non-physical attributes when the core element is a physical good.
An example: An automobile's merchandise features could include colour, shape, size, performance characteristics. Its support dimensions could include the test drive, instruction book, delivery service, servicing arrangements and service agent network.
If an offering is bought with little attention of differences in any of the dimensions, it is a COMMODITY-BUY. If the offering is highly differentiated in both dimensions, it is a SYSTEM-BUY. If high in support, but not in merchandise, it's a SERVICE-BUY, and in the reverse case a PRODUCT-BUY.
If you have read the strategy books by Michael Porter and Treacy/Wiersema, then you will find a clear connection between these findings. A commodity-buy is the obvious choice for the Porter's cost leader and Treacy/Wiersema's operational excellent strategy. A product-buy looks a lot like the original meaning of Porter's differentiation strategy and Treacy/Wiersema's product leader strategy. Service-buy is Treacy/Wiersema's Customer Intimacy strategy. System-buy is a new dimension that clearly suggests that there are four different generic strategies. Not only three.
Mathur manages in this book to explode the original four strategies to 16 different strategies by subdividing each of the four. This section includes very practical insights for the skilled reader.
This book is also readable because it doesn't just repeat old strategy thinking, but manages to both add to current state-of-the-art thinking and also criticize old thinking. One example is Porter's ubiquitous Five Forces industry analysis. The authors argue that it is very seldom this analysis - presented in most strategy books - provides really valuable lessons by analysing an industry. We need to dig much deeper. All the way down to the "offering". Otherwise the conclusions may become too general. Having spent 15 years with business strategy, I must say that I have experienced the same problem over and over again. After having done the Five Forces industry analysis, we quickly realize that if we did not get much closer to the "offering", the effort would have been wasted. Interesting work of course, but wasted...
Interestingly, Mathur's framework is very close in their insight to the Swedish network theorists (focusing on industrial relationships and network) that today are integrated into the European Industrial Marketing and Purchasing group of researchers. Unfortunately this IMP group is not very good at gaining access to a broader audience. But Mathur's book is a great substitute to some of their findings ...
MSc in International Business (Marketing & Management) and Graduate Diploma in E-business
Rezensentin / Rezensent