Going for gold – what Michael Phelps can teach us about corporate strategy | Milner Strategic Marketing

Going for gold – what Michael Phelps can teach us about corporate strategy

Michael Phelps Visualising the Future

Michael Phelps has become the most decorated Olympian of all time.  A key focus behind Phelps’ success is the way he visualises the future.  This is a powerful technique that business leaders should also adopt when creating their strategic plans.

Doing this as well as Phelps is challenging because there are more variables in a competitive market than in a swimming race. As a result of the complexity of markets, companies can end up with a number of market scenarios being used by different departments within an organisation. This creates a problem with inconsistent sources being referenced and disparate numbers being presented by departments.

A Strategic Foundation:
Making sure that your company has the same unified view of the market is the foundation of a good strategy.   Adopting what I like to call a ‘One Truth’ market forecast is a great way to achieve this and brings a number of positive benefits:

  • A single model provides all the market sizing data your company needs in one place. This means that staff no longer have to undertake their own research which saves time and if additional market reports were being bought or commissioned there is a clear financial benefit, too
  • Each employee across the company has the same data source when they need information. This prevents individual departments from ‘cherry picking’ numbers from arbitrary internet resources and results in company-wide alignment
  • Because everyone is having conversations based around the same data, discussions can start with “what will we do about…?” rather than “what is going on?”

Company-wide Benefits:
As the diagram below explains, benefits are enjoyed company-wide:

Building a ‘One Truth’ model that accurately describes the competitive landscape is challenging, but with the right help is very achievable, no matter what industry you operate in.  If you want to find out more about how to approach this you might find the talk I gave to SCIP useful.

Dealing with Conflicting Opinions:
Gaining buy-in to the findings of the model is immensely important.  The goal is to pool all the market intelligence from within the business and produce numbers that everyone agrees to use. To achieve this I would recommend getting input from key stakeholders across the business, which allows everyone’s opinions and information to be taken into account. This is one of the examples where the journey is almost as important as the destination.

However, dealing with conflicting opinions can be challenging.  Using an independent arbiter can be helpful to analyse all the data that is provided internally and form one coherent view.

Do you use a ‘One Truth’ model in your company? What benefits does it give you? Let me know.

About the author:
Jonathan Davenport is Head of Market Analysis and has particular experience of using market and competitor analysis to support strategy development. He works for Milner Strategic Marketing, a business consultancy that helps companies grow their value by delivering a range of services from strategic management consultancy through to specific marketing programmes.

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