Company Development Strategies: What are Company Development Strategies?
October 16, 2010
Company development strategies comprise a set of strategies centered on people, other key resources, key activities, your economic model, and your management systems. Company development strategies both follow and lead business growth strategies and competitive advantage strategies and also align with your company aspirations. This post is part of a series that links competitive advantage to developing and executing business growth strategies and company development strategies.
Prior posts in this series include:
1. Introduction to the series and general overview of the goals for the series.
2. Addressed the question “What is Competitive Advantage?”
3. Addressed the question “What are Business Growth Strategies?”
In this post, I will address the question “What are Company Development Strategies”?
I define company development, consistent with our OpenView Labs website, as “the design, creation, and delivery of an independent, robust, growing and profitable company composed of a team of talented people who are aligned with meaningful aspirations (mission, vision, values) and are well organized to realize your aspirations“.
Company development strategies aim to achieve your long-term goals for your company development which should align with your long-term aspirations for your company, your business growth strategies, and your goals for creating competitive advantage.
If you don’t possess a clear idea of your long-term aspirations, the business growth strategies you want to implement and the competitive advantage you want to gain, then it will be more difficult for you to create a clear set of company development strategies that support them.
That said, since aspirations, growth strategies, competitive advantage, and company development all interact with each other and must align, the pragmatic approach is to consider each an ongoing work in progress and to iterate on each over time (that is, take a stab at each and then improve on them over time, as the results of each will inform the others).
Assuming that you roughly planned out your aspirations, business growth strategies, and how you propose to create competitive advantage, you can start working on your company development strategies (i.e. what you need to do from the company perspective to deliver growth, competitive advantage, and ultimately achieve your company aspirations).
The 5 core “whats” of your company development strategy
I find that the best way to describe company development strategies is along 5 dimensions:
1. Target People– What are the key skills/positions you need in and around your company?
2. Other Target Resources– What are the other key resources (intellectual property, physical assets, software systems to support the business, information capital [data, analytical techniques, and/or information], partnerships, networks, logistics infrastructure, cash in the bank, etc.) you need in your company?
3. Target Activities– What are the key activities you must perform well to achieve your business growth strategies and competitive advantage (a.k.a. methodologies such as product design capabilities, software development activities, direct sales activities, channel development activities, or customer service activities)?
4. Target Economic Model– What is your target economic model that will ultimately bring you the right financial results?
5. Target Management Systems– What are the key management system components that help the people associated with your company optimize the execution of your strategies (organizational approach, recruiting and people management systems, communication systems, meeting structure, rhythm, key reports and other components that get the right people in place, allow your people to do their best work, work well together, maximize their total impact and make appropriate adjustments to aspirations, strategies, processes, and day-to-day activities)?
The 5 core “whats” of a company development strategy define the people and other key resources you need, your key activities, target economic model, and the key management system components required to execute your aspirations, business growth strategies, and competitive advantage goals.
Note that if you have more than one business growth strategy, you need to consider your company development strategy in the context of each and every business growth strategy.
The additional “whats” of the strategy:
– What are your goals for the strategy?
– What are the anticipated results from your strategy?
– What are the anticipated risks?
– What are the anticipated obstacles you need to overcome?
Now, better describe your strategy with the “Hows” of your strategy
– How will you get the key people in and around your company? For example, hire an executive recruiter, use an internal recruiter, hire a business development employee?
– How will you develop your other key resources? For example, build organically, partner with others, merge with a company that already has these key resources, get additional investment, etc.?
– How will you develop your key activities? For example, assign internal resources, hire someone who can create them, send your people to training, use a third party consultant, etc.?
– How will you achieve your target economic model? For example, target some specific activities that address a specific component that is currently furthest from the target?
– How will you develop your key management system components? For example, hire someone who knows how to develop the components, do some research, hire an outside consultant?
Now, better support the “whats” and “hows” and the “whys” of your business growth strategy:
Why is this strategy the best business growth strategy?
– Why will this strategy best help the company align with its aspirations?
– Why will this strategy best help the company meet its business growth strategy goals?
– Why will this strategy best help the company meet its competitive advantage goals?
– Why is this strategy best aligned with your company exit strategy (if you have one)?
– Why are other company development strategies less attractive?
– Why are your answers to the “How” questions the best options for your company?
These are the broad brush strokes for a complete company development strategy. Defining the target people and other resources, activities, economic model, and management system and addressing the rest of the “whats”, “hows” and “whys” will set you up really well with the best company development strategies and make it easier to drive your strategy into your operating rhythm.
If you can clearly articulate, execute, and iterate on your company development strategy, you should develop to achieve your business growth strategies, competitive advantage goals, and ultimately your aspirations.
Can you clearly articulate your company development strategies? If not, why not?
In my next post in this series, I will show how you can map your competitive advantage, business growth strategies, and company development strategies in “Strategy Maps- A great tool for mapping out a comprehensive strategy”.
Note 1: Many earlier stage companies who are still finding their core product market (i.e. the products and target customer segment(s) they plan on developing over time) may not be ready to put a complete stake in the ground on their company aspirations or their company development strategies. If this is the case, don’t sweat it, but if you are growing over 20-30 people in your company, it makes a lot of sense to clarify your aspirations and your company development strategy to ensure you are building the right team of people, resources, and processes that are aligned with what you are trying to achieve for the long-term (your company aspirations).
Note 2: Company development strategies also create company capabilities that allow for the execution of unique business growth strategies and competitive advantage. The more company capability you possess, the more sophisticated your business growth strategies and the more competitive advantage you can achieve. To the extent that the competitive advantage you are trying to achieve aligns with company capabilities that are unique to that strategy, the more opportunity you have to create a competitive advantage that is difficult for others to replicate.