Ready, Fire, Aim! - Mihail's Public Blog: Strategy in Pictures

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Strategy in Pictures

Trying to put together a company strategy is often complicated because there's so much extraneous stuff -- an interesting article in Harvard Business Review suggests you draw a strategy picture to better illustrate what your company or organization is about. And to ensure that a plan/strategy turns into action rather than paralysis.

Here's their example of how Southwest found the Big Picture -- note how Southwest's profile has more in common with a car than the other airlines.

Chart: The Strategy Canvas of the Short-Haul Airline Industry

This illustration is from the HBS Working Knowledge site

Every great strategy has focus, and a company's strategic profile, or value curve, should clearly show it. Looking at Southwest's profile, for example, you can see at once that the company emphasizes just three factors: friendly service, speed, and frequent point-to-point departures. By focusing in this way, Southwest has been able to price against car transportation; it doesn't make extra investments in meals, lounges, and seating choices.

...The final test of a good strategy picture is how well it lends itself to a tag line. "The speed of the plane at the price of the car—whenever you need it." That's the tag line of Southwest Airlines, or at least it could be...A good tag line must not only deliver a clear message but also advertise an offering truthfully, or else customers will lose trust and interest. If you can't come up with a strong and authentic tag line, chances are you don't have a strong strategy, either.

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