28 Feb 2017 21:29 IST

Aerial view of trails: strategy

Here are some must reads to up your strategy game

The series of articles in this column has been akin to a walk in jungle — making sense of whatever you encounter, dealing with it, side-stepping it, or keep the learning for the future. These were random encounters and we crossed many trails during this long walk.

Now we take aerial views of some of the trails in the Jargon Jungle.

In this article, we will be covering the trail Strategy.

Here is a selection of some sound concepts that can be reduced to being mere jargon. When conceptual frameworks meant to be used by for thinking on strategy become everyday jargon, one loses out on their benefits. One loses sight of the pitfalls too.

Best practices

The description ‘best practices’ is often used to justify mediocrity or ‘average’. One shouldn't be overly dependent on this tool. Read this .


The practice of benchmarking is useful if you wish to catch up with competitors in your market. On the other hand, it will come in your way if you wish to establish a clear market leadership. Read why .


Branding means different things to different people. There is more to branding than what meets the eye; moreover, branding itself is undergoing a change in the digital world. If you are getting into branding, do read this before committing funds.

Change Management

This term has become trivialised due to overuse. If you are planning restructuring, a change in business model or change in direction, or even if you’re staring at some serious ‘great change management’, you will need a clear scenario, stamina and creativity to take it up. Read this for an overview.

A 50,000 feet view

Like many trade-offs, a 50,000 feet view is tricky — get too close and you miss the ‘big picture’; take a long panning shot and you risk missing vital details. Depending on your background, you may either default to a close or a 50,000 feet view. Read this article to understand how to resolve the paradox.

Lean Thinking

In today’s world, getting the product out in the market in the least possible time can be a make or break situation. Quick cycles of experiments and retained learning are necessary. Lean thinking helps in this. On the other hand, lean thinking can also mean lost opportunities due to too narrow a focus. Read this article to avoid such pitfalls and reap the benefits of lean thinking.


The digital economy makes ‘gamification’ a viable method for making your business processes interesting enough for your people, prospective customers or employees so that they play their roles with more involvement. Read how .

Skin in the game

If you ever have been let down by a specialist, the phrase ‘skin in the game’ will strike a chord. As we move in a world dominated by specialists, the dangers of overspecialisation become serious. Read this article to know how you should navigate such a world.

Performance management

Performance management should be seen more as ‘making higher performance possible’ and less as ‘comparing performance against goals’. This article shows that it should a cross-functional exercise to determine required levels of improvements in key operating processes and initiatives.

Business agility

Sensing changes in business environment, determining what is needed to be done and doing it all speedily is business agility. It is a capability that every organisation must have. But there is more to business agility. Read about it here .

Core competency — a paradox

This is a classical framework for strategising. As technologies and social changes redefine industries, a relook is necessary. Read this ‘first principles’-based review of the paradox it presents.

Blue Ocean Strategy

Every start-up hopes to swim in a ‘blue ocean’. If it succeeds, it attracts sharks. The question is, can one company master innovation and competing? Read this article to understand the issues well.

White space

White space thinking is often counter-intuitive. White space is at the intersection of imagining technologies’ uses and the insights into people’s lives as this article shows.

Butterfly Effect

‘Butterfly Effect’ is the phenomenon of large unexpected events (of statistically insignificant probabilities) triggered by seemingly trivial and unrelated events. We overlook the fact that such events are commonplace in our heavily inter-dependent world with complex linkages. Understanding butterfly effect provides a good counter-point to the tendency of ignoring seemingly minor errors. Read about it here .

Long Tail business model

Amazon’s success in building its business, in which the so called ‘trivial many’ contributed to ‘not-so-trivial’ business size, brought into focus the ‘Long Tail’ business model. While a digital marketplace enables such a business model, there are more fundamental issues. This article explains them.

Glocal business model

Globalisation was never a one way street. Recent events such as Brexit and a change of guard in the US have brought this out even more. Read this article to understand what kind of ‘glocal’ companies can thrive in the ‘post-global’ world.

Hope you find this 'Strategy Trail' engrossing.