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Corporate Strategies Explained

Shortly after I joined the world of mid to large size corporations in the 1980s, I went to a big meeting where they introduced with much fanfare the new "Big Corporate Strategy" at an off-site staff meeting. I was excited about this grand plan to dominate our industry. I bought the 700 page, $49.95 book that the consultant who presented the "Big Corporate Strategy" recommended, even though it was not approved company-reimburseable expense. I was even excited when they brought out the new-new "Big Corporate Strategy" that followed several months later. Again, I bought the 700 page, $49.95 book that the consultant who presented it recommended. By the seventh new "Big Corporate Strategy", my enthusiasm started to dip. Just a little. I still dutifully abandoned all the old ideas and adopted the new ones. I faithfully added them to my computer. I did my corporate duty and bought the 700 page, $49.95 books. A few years ago I lost track of the number of these big meetings I had attended. (I'd been keeping track of them on one of the early Pentium™ PCs with the math error, but that's another story...)

It is a sign of the lean, mean 90s that the introduction of the more recent "Big Corporate Strategies" have been done via electronic means rather than at expensive off-site staff meetings. The colorful slides are still a part of each introduction, but now they are delivered as PowerPoint™ files. There is still a highly paid consultant who delivers the new message, but now s/he appears through video conferencing or RealVideo™ files attached to an e-mail message. And, of course each is still accompanied by the strong suggestion that we all need to buy a 700 page, $49.95 book that is available at your local bookstore, and that is not an approved company-reimburseable expense.

The other day, I was cleaning my shelf of 700 page, $49.95 books about "Big Corporate Strategies", and a thought hit me. Actually, the shelf broke and several books hit me. Anyway, I realized that there are really only six "Big Corporate Strategies". Here they are: (Replace "X" with the current target function/department/prodcut/industry in the first two items)

  1. We need to outsource the X department - we are not in the X business and we can pay someone who is to do it cheaper than we can do it ourselves.
  2. X is integral to our business - it cannot be outsourced without seriously jeopardizing our ability to do business.
  3. We are a technology driven company - we will create products that are technologically ahead of the market, and we will become a market leader.
  4. We are a market driven company - will build the products that the market demands, and will not waste valuable company resources building products before a market is available; we will let other companies create the market, then we will create our product for that market.
  5. We want to be able to provide one stop shopping for our clients. We will develop expertise inhouse or buy a market leader in all areas we need to provide all the ancillary products and services our customers need.
  6. We cannot be all things to all people. We will focus on our core business and shed all excess baggage so we can do just one thing, but we do it better than anyone else.

I charted the frequency of these "Big Corporate Strategy" rollouts and compared them across several companies and have come to the startling conclusion that there is a central clearinghouse that determines how long each company is allowed to have each strategy. Depending on the size of the company and the current 700 page "Big Corporate Strategy" book that is on the best seller list at $49.95, each company is allowed to use each strategy for 6 to 18 months. Then it absolutely, positively must relinquish that strategy to the next company in line, and take the strategy it is next in line for.

This arrangement keeps a large segment of the national economy running. Consider for a moment what would happen if a few major corporations did not participate in this rotation.

There are of course additional industries that would be devastated, but this is enough to prove the point.

You can see that it is imperative to the functioning of our economy that the rotation of "Big Corporate Strategy" continue. To do my part, I am currently expanding the ideas presented on this page to a book form. It will be available in your local bookstore shortly at a suggested retail price of $49.95....

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This page, and all contents, are Copyright (C) 1997 by Steve Heyl, Denver, CO, USA.