What Not To Do

Recently I was preparing for a brief talk on Michael Porter’s Five Forces Analysis, and it got me thinking of another reason I admire Porter: his great quote that

“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do”.

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Working on a new strategy, tactic or general idea is exciting. Enthusiasm grows, energy abounds, and then expectations start to expand.

What are we giving up?

When this happens to my clients, I interject by asking “Ok, and what are we giving up?”. Each decision incurs a loss, and it is important to know exactly what is being sacrificed.

A loss does not have to be negative, the important thing is that the decision maker be aware of what is at stake when a strategy is chosen.

How are we different?

Knowing what you won’t pursue, do, or say is also part of business differentiation.

What you don’t do sets you apart from other people doing it. Strategy is a conscious decision to be different, and to be organized within that difference.

What Not To Do

There may not be a single trait or standard that makes your business unique. There is, however, a correct combination of these that only your company practices and exhibits. This informs strategy and a unique value proposition (the keyword there, of course, is “unique”).

Knowing what not to do is essential to a solid strategy.

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