Your Strategy Needs a Strategy

Martin Reeves, Knut Haanaes, Janmejaya Sinha

How to Choose and Execute the Right Approach

Many executives rely on a process for devising strategy suited to stable, predictable environments even when they know conditions are highly volatile and mutable. Why? Because, the authors contend, they lack a systematic way to match their strategy-making style to the particular circumstances of their industry, business function, or geographic market. These three BCG consultants offer a framework to do just that. It identifies four “strategic styles”: classical, adaptive, shaping, and visionary. Which of these is best suited to your situation depends on how far and accurately you can confidently forecast demand, corporate performance, competitive dynamics, and market expectations (predictability) and to what extent you or your competitors can influence those factors (malleability). A classical style, familiar to most managers and business school graduates, is well suited to an industry whose environment is predictable but hard for your company to change. Oil is a good example of this. An adaptive style suits an unpredictable industry, such as fashion, that players can’t alter. A shaping style is best when the industry is unpredictable but your company or another has the power to transform it. And a visionary style fits a predictable industry that is nevertheless amenable to change. Too often strategists focus only on how predictable their environment is and not on the opportunities they—or others—may have to change it.