Find Your North Star: Organization-wide Strategies

Especially pertinent for larger companies divided into departments and spread across multiple branch offices, executives must find ways to align employees so all are working toward the same objectives. This calls for strategies that transcend departmental goals and focus on the business as a whole.


The first hurdle in launching organization-wide strategies is identifying those strategies. In a transcript of her presentation “Identifying Organization-Wide Strategies,” Erica Olsen first establishes a common understanding of what strategy means: “Think of it as a method, a series of maneuvers, and my favorite word which is guardrails.” She then confirms what everyone suspects: “Organizations have different levels of strategy.” She means that corporations engage multiple levels of strategy for growth, stabilization, and retrenchment. The overall strategy, says Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter, “focuses on how you’re going to compete.”


Strategies that focus on competition usually dwell on three basic variables: cost, leadership, and customer relationships. Remember, the cost is not the same as price. For instance, Joy was long marketed as the most costly perfume on the market. It wasn’t the most expensive to purchase, but Jean Patou promoted it as the most expensive to produce. Leadership refers to originality or uniqueness of a product. Remember the iMac? That product singlehandedly revived Apple’s rapidly dwindling market share, followed by the iPad and then the iPhone which returned the company to powerhouse status. IBM, Samsung, Motorola, and other companies scrambled to catch up and improve upon those landmark innovations. Customer relationships work particularly well in narrow markets because intimate knowledge of the customer remains critical to success. As Olsen states, “[T]his strategy is first starting with targeting a narrow market and building upward from that choice.”


Once you’ve identified the strategies that will best serve your business, you have to develop them. According to Porter, this where your steering committee or board of directors works to design a “coherent, coordinated action…. Goals and actions at various levels of the organization are developed in concert with the guiding strategy.” For success, Kimberly Amadeo writes in The Balance, that strategy must iterate the benefit your company offers its target market and prove that whatever you’re offering is better than what your competition sells.


More Business offers a 6-step process for handling competition. The process boils down the academic discussion into concrete steps that leave a lot of leeway for exploration. Frog-Dog also relies on Porter’s authority and explains the three competitive strategies in plain English. Again, the explanations therein hint at the basics, but do not offer a step-by-step instruction guide on how to build and develop effective strategies. Let’s be frank: that how-to is what business coaches teach. If they gave away all their secrets, they’d eliminate their own business.


Identifying the organization-wide strategies for your company serves as the guiding light that leads toward market dominance. On the other hand, that north star you follow doesn’t tell you how long the journey will be or what obstacles you may encounter during travel. The Heggen Group will help you to develop a process for handling whatever the journey may throw at you.  Contact us to learn more.