The Key to a Winning Market Strategy: Discipline

by Eddie Reeves on

1. OPERATIONAL EXCELLENCE (Delivering the best-cost solution)

Operating imperative: Rigorously developed and deployed systems that minimize cost and maximize predictability/reliability.

  • Emphasis on processes that are standardized, simplified and tightly controlled, leaving few decisions to rank-and-file employees
  • Management systems that monitor and reward speed, reliability and adherence to process
  • A culture that extols efficiency and demonizes waste

Examples of operational excellence companies:  McDonald’s, Wal-Mart and Southwest Airlines.

2. PRODUCT LEADERSHIP (Delivering the best-quality solution)

Operating imperative: Promotion of processes of invention, product development, and continuous market exploitation.

  • A business structure that is less formal and more fluid and entrepreneurial to adjust quickly to market developments and destabilizations
  • Management systems that measure and reward results more than adherence to process and that don’t punish occasional maverick behavior
  • A culture that encourages individual imagination, accomplishment, out-of-the- box thinking, and a mind-set driven by the desire to create

Examples of product leadership companies: Apple, Nike and Harley-Davidson

C. CUSTOMER INTIMACY (Tailoring product/service to a specific set of customers)

Operating imperative: Building and maintaining an enterprise-wide orientation towards solution development, i.e., working with and helping the customer understand exactly what is needed and developing the processes and programs to get it to them.

  • A business structure that pushes the decision-making power to those closest to the customer
  • Management systems measure and reward achieving sustainable results for strategically chosen clients
  • A culture that emphasizes those values and principles that maximize deep, long-lasting client relationships

Examples of customer intimacy companies: Nordstrom, USAA and Zappos.

The book has generated some criticism over the years, and while it isn’t perfect, I think the detractors miss the point:  The core message of The Discipline of Market Leaders is the idea that the true value of a strategy is that it provides the central organizing principal or philosophy that guides everything that the organization does.

As I have helped many of my consulting and coaching clients understand and achieve, any enterprise — from the smallest mom and pop to the FORTUNE 100 — that can show this kind of discipline and focus will enjoy have a huge advantage in the marketplace.

Which will you choose for your company?

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