Adaptive Advantage: Adaptive strategy vs traditional strategy approach
A traditional approach to strategy focuses on developing a key competitive advantage, such as the most locations, becoming the cheapest, or finding a niche need and doubling down. Traditional strategic planning requires a fairly set-in-stone direction and structure, with some forecasting involved to make decisions.
However, in failing to adapt to how the world is changing, a traditional strategic planning approach can quickly become pointless. Blockbuster’s number of locations did little for the business as the world moved to mail-order movies then VOD streaming. Like trends, competitive advantages continue to evolve.
While the future is as uncertain as ever, all businesses have access to tools to map trends that can be factored into an adaptive strategy. You have access to RSS feeds, tech & business journals, big data and industry consultants to start with. Quality news sources (that aren’t echo-chambers of emotional button-pushing) also have a place in building an understanding of the bigger picture and what we can do to colour it.
With all the information freely available, we’re seeing the end to the ‘special sauce’. There are few true big secrets you can toil away on for years before launch to gain the advantage. The capacity to adapt and act almost immediately matters more than ever.
If we ignore trends as ‘blips’ and relying solely on the ‘five year plan’ we risk running in the wrong race. Those who adopt a more agile approach, and do it right, stand to benefit from the adaptive advantage while competitors may flail in the winds of change.
Adaptive strategies will differ between industries and organisations, however, what is important is that your organisation can identify changes as they occur within your ‘ecosystem’. Only by noticing these changes can we identify opportunities to improve and progress for the betterment of the organisation.
A side benefit is that by choosing a path of constantly innovating and moulding a strategy to meet the market, is that we also sharpen our senses around what is changing globally, not just in our industry. That, in turn, allows us to overcome larger challenges and reap the rewards that come with them.