This thought is timely for me because earlier this week I moderated the marketing portion of RetailNexus. On my panel was Brooks Sports who has made a strategic choice to focus on runners. They're number three in the running shoe space behind Nike and ASICS, but running is a big category. I really admire how Brooks has chosen to remain focused only on runners. That's a choice. Which makes it a good strategy.
And it fits with this:
The problem with a lot of strategies is that they are full of non-choices. Probably most of us have read more than a few so-called strategies that say something like, "Our strategy is to be customer centric." But is that really a choice?
You only know that you've made a real strategic choice if you can say the opposite of what that choice is, and it's not stupid. So, think about 'customer centric.' The opposite would be what? We ignore our customers? How does that work? Can you point out many companies that succeed and make lots of money ignoring their customers? Well, then being customer centric is not a strategic choice.
I often use the mutual fund industry as an example of where the leading players have made real choices. Vanguard's founder John Bogle says, "Picking stocks is stupid. It's bad for the investors. It wastes their money. Just buy index funds." That's all Vanguard offers. How do we know it's non-stupid, that it has a strategy? Because Fidelity says the opposite, "Portfolio managers are the absolute heart of the strategy. We put together portfolios that are customized to our clients' needs." So we have two super successful mutual fund companies making the opposite choices. That's strategy, and that's what you should seek.