In this post we will examine some strategic challenges that may arise. We will also look at an example of effectively dealing with strategic challengs.
The creation of a strategy would be simple if we had a clear understanding of all causal connections between actions and outcomes. But this is not how the world works. We generally don’t have such information when designing a strategy. We also deal with a cluster of issues versus one issue. We further deal with a cluster of ambitions. And therefore, the creation of strategy goes beyond determining goals and decision-making. The development of strategy is a type of problem-solving.
Look and feel of strategic challenges
Let’s briefly examine the look and feel of some strategic challenges that may arise.
– You may be dealing with a strategic challenge where there is no clear definition of the problem. In fact, you may not even know what the problem is but just have a feeling that things are not going well.
– A choice that needs to be made. In this situation, you know the alternatives, but there are a lot of non-quantifiable aspects and uncertainties surrounding the choices.
– You may be dealing with a strategic challenge where you do not have a single main goal. You have a basket of competing ambitions, and they can’t all be satisfied. Some conflict with each other.
– When you need to create something new, with no predefined alternatives.
– Dealing with a difficult or dangerous situation. There are no clear causal connections between actions and results. There are no predetermined alternatives and no guarantee of a solution.
– You may be dealing with a strategic challenge with a cluster of issues rather than one clear problem. Multiple, seemingly equally important challenges may exist at the same time.
– A strategic challenge may arise not only due to problems, but because of an opportunity that came up and needs to be taken advantage of. The strategy needs to be developed to take full advantage of the opportunity.
Regardless of the strategic challenge type, a skilled strategist needs to go to the utterly unacceptable critical issue that is solvable and isolate a part of it where they have a good chance to win.
But what is corporate strategy?
It’s great to have a discussion about strategic challenges. But for many executives it is not completely clear what is strategy. What does it actually mean? Many executives consider it something of a waste of time since things are changing so fast.
So before we dive into an example on effectively dealing with strategic challenges, lets first answer this question “what is strategy?”
Now that we are clear on what is strategy and therefore it is much esier to understand what are strategic challenges, let’s take a look at what is corporate strategy. Because corporate strategy is different from, let’s say, business unit strategy. In video below we focus on what is corporate strategy.
The Marvel story (a powerful example of dealing with strategic challenges)
And now that we are clear on definition of strategy, corporate strategy, and strategic challenges, let’s take a look at a powerful example of dealing with strategic challenges. Marvel is a great example.
In 1999, Marvel just came out of bankruptcy. To pay off its debt, Marvel licensed its characters for toys and games. There was an opportunity to use Marvel characters for feature films. The problem was that there had not yet been a successful major film based on Marvel characters. Most of the characters were generally unknown outside of comic fans. Hollywood was interested only in Spider-Man and the X-Men. Spider-Man was licensed to Sony Pictured and the X-Men to Fox, both for low fees.
Kevin Feige, then Marvel president, identified the fact that Marvel characters needed to be known and liked by a wider audience as the source of the challenges. Marvel took a group of characters and put them all in the same fictional “universe.” Marvel raised money to pay for an independent studio and released their first successful film, “Iron Man.” This was followed by 28 more feature films. Marvel got to a point where people wanted to go watch a Marvel movie, almost regardless of the characters. In 2009, Marvel was acquired by Disney. The Marvel story is a great example where you can see how the resolution of the source within the cluster of issues resolved major parts of the cluster of issues.
If you want to learn how to think differently about strategic challenges and would like to see a compilation of powerful strategyinsights, we have a book where we compiled Monday morning 8 a.m. posts that we shared in the past with our audience. You can get your copy of that book here.
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