Chat with us, powered by LiveChat Strategic Growth As outlined in this week’s lecture notes, there are seven common game-winning moves that can be leveraged to differentiate and st | EssayAbode

Strategic Growth As outlined in this week’s lecture notes, there are seven common game-winning moves that can be leveraged to differentiate and st

 Strategic GrowthAs outlined in this week's lecture notes, there are seven common game-winning moves that can be leveraged to differentiate and strengthen competitive positioning. They include: Geographic Expansion, New Price Tiers, Vertical Integration, Moving Into Adjacent Product Segments, New Distribution Channels, Discontinuous Innovation, and Mergers & Acquisitions.

  • Identify an organization in your industry (but not the company you selected for your course project) that used one of the seven common winning moves.
  • Which move did they use and why do you think they elected to use this move?
  • How effective was this move in establishing meaningful differentiation? Support your response with references to this week's materials including Chapter 9 from Sherman.

Post your initial response by Wednesday, midnight of your time zone, and reply to at least 2 of your classmates' initial posts by Sunday, midnight of your time zone.​ 

1st person to respond to

  Xiaodong Zhu 

Hello Dr. G and Class:

Identify an organization in your industry (but not the company you selected for your course project) that used one of the seven common winning moves.

I choose one of our competitors, Yudo Co., a significant Hot Runner Asia market player (1).

Which move did they use and why do you think they elected to use this move?

2nd person to respond to

Chad

 Hello Dr. G. and Class,

Identify an organization in your industry (but not the company you selected for your course project) that used one of the seven common winning moves.

This week’s lecture notes teach us that one way to leverage up on the competition is through Mergers, Acquisitions and Strategic Alliances (JWI, 1).  This can be a good way to change the playing field when an industry is crowded (1).  I work in the pipeline inspection industry and it is a very mature and crowded market with some technologies in existence for close to thirty years.  One of our competitors, NDT Global, executed this move in 2020 by acquiring an innovative Norwegian inspection company called Halfwave (NDT, 2).  This was a very smart strategic move as it allowed NDT to now compete in the pipeline crack detection market and provide access to a whole new suite of pipeline inspection technologies (2). 

Which move did they use and why do you think they elected to use this move?

This merger and acquisition was a real-time way for both companies to benefit from economies of scale and the ability to pool resources together (JWI, 1).  Efficiencies are also present, as it allows each company to leverage existing Master Service Agreements with companies, expediting the ability to do work.  That is a major benefit in our industry, as it can sometimes take months or years to get set up to be able to work for a major energy company.  A merger such as this allows each division to explore what current relationships are set up, and how they can cross-pollinate by sharing technology, resources, and contracts to get in the doors with companies quicker.  This was a significant pathway to market leadership as each company gained expertise, intelligence, technology, and insight into each other's market while benefitting from existing business relationships (JWI, 1). 

How effective was this move in establishing meaningful differentiation? Support your response with references to this week's materials including Chapter 9 from Sherman.

In this week’s readings, Sherman emphasizes that understanding consumers’ perceptions is critical to uncovering opportunities, meeting unmet needs, and creating meaningful differentiation through product offerings (3).  NDT’s merger with Halfwave was effective in establishing meaningful differentiation because it was a way for the two companies to come together to address customers’ needs of having more access to non-destructive pipeline inspection technologies.  The merger allowed NDT to offer its existing customer base new technologies under a familiar existing business relationship, essentially using product positioning to understand consumer perceptions (Sherman, 3).  The merger provided immediate access to new inspection products and services that are recognized by consumers (Sherman, 3).  It also allowed the company to now provide discounts and other pricing methodologies to existing clients due to the fact that they now have more technology options available providing more opportunities to do business with clients.  It is a way to attract “nonconsumers”, or existing clients who weren’t fully served these inspection options prior and create a new base of consumer appeal (Sherman, 3).

Regards,

Chad

Source List:

  1. JWI 540.  2022.  Week Six Lecture Notes.
  2. NDT Global.  2020.  NDT Global Welcomes Halfwave and Their ART Technology.  https://www.ndt-global.com/resources/news/ndt-global-welcomes-halfwave-and-their-art-technology/
  3. Leonard Sherman.  2017.  If You’re in a Dogfight, Become a Cat!

I choose the seventh move of Mergers & Acquisitions. I propose Yudo acquire MHS(Mold Hotrunner Solutions) to achieve geographic expansion to North America. MHS is a Hot Runner supplier that delivers high-performance Hot Runner systems based in Canada, having customer and service networks across North America (2).

How effective was this move in establishing meaningful differentiation? Support your response with references to this week's materials including Chapter 9 from Sherman.

Long term, the Hot runner customer defines three categories based on the price and performance of the Hot Runner product (3). The defined industry rule for the hot runner industry is premium hot runner supplier with better quality and higher price, medium Hot runner supplier with good quality and medium price. 

Since the industry norms of the hot runner industry are that MHS is a premium product supplier and Yudo is a medium product supplier, the customer will assume that higher performance will need a higher price (4). 

This move will help Yudo improve its efficiency and increase its revenue and global market share.

  • After the M&A, Yudo can access MHS's North America market and customer and service network.
  • Yudo will have access to MHS's supply chain and negotiate a better deal with suppliers, distributors, and diversified sources.
  • After the M&A, MHS can share the standard component and utilize Yudo's part to reduce the cost of the MHS product line. MHS can provide further discounts to generate more sales volumes or increase the profit margin.
  • Yudo will share MHS's technology and use it on Yudo's existing product. This addition will allow Yudo to boost the brand image, increase the sales price or grow the market share in Asia.

Thanks

Xiao

Ref:

  1. About YUDO, http://www.yudo.com/about
  2. About us, https://www.moldhotrunnersolutions.com/company.html
  3. JWI540 Week Six Lecture Notes
  4. Sherman, L. (2017). If You're in a Dogfight, Become a Cat. Chapter 9: What Makes Products Meaningfully Different?

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JWI 540 – Lecture Notes (1214) Page 1 of 11

JWI 540: Strategy

Week Six Lecture Notes

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JWI 540 – Lecture Notes (1214) Page 2 of 11

CREATING MEANINGFUL DIFFERENTIATION

What It Means

Failure to create a value proposition that is meaningfully different from those of your competitors will

reduce your business model to a commodity play often with a race to the bottom on pricing. When

thinking about meaningful differentiation, however, not every winning move requires a breakthrough

invention like the iPhone. There are plenty of companies that make money in sectors that are

commoditized, such as the retail gasoline business. However, even in highly commoditized and mature

industries, there are still opportunities for meaningful differentiation.

Why It Matters

• If your self-assessment shows that your organization is not focused on making dynamic, game- changing moves, this is a significant warning sign that whatever competitive advantage you currently hold is vulnerable to erosion.

• It is easy to underestimate the power and capabilities of competitors. Too often, the assumption is that rivals are not getting faster, better, and more innovative. This is how a company can lose its competitive edge in a short timeframe.

• The future of your business must always be at the top of a leader’s mind: it enables organizations to make smart moves faster than their competition.

“Getting the right strategy means you have to assume your competitors are

damn good, or at the very least as good as you are, and that they are moving just

as fast or faster.”

“If the rate of change on the outside

exceeds the rate of change on the

inside,

the end is near.”

Jack Welch

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JWI 540 – Lecture Notes (1214) Page 3 of 11

YOUR STARTING POINT

1. Looking at the history of your organization, has your success been fueled primarily by organic

growth or by acquisitions and partnerships?

2. Will the business model/product mix that has driven your past success continue to be viable for

future growth? Why?

3. Are the core offerings of your organization meaningfully different from those of your

competitors?

4. Is the rate of change within your organization consistently higher than that of your competitors?

How can you validate that?

5. Do you have the capabilities required to disrupt the playing field to your advantage by

leveraging only the resources that you currently have within your organization?

6. Is your organization open to developing new offerings or establishing strategic alliances with

other organizations?

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JWI 540 – Lecture Notes (1214) Page 4 of 11

WHAT IS “MEANINGFUL” DIFFERENTIATION?

For differentiation to be meaningful, it must be something that makes your offering stand out, and it must

be something that matters enough to customers that they are willing to actually buy it. Any strategic move

aimed at creating meaningful differentiation must increase your competitiveness in the market and

improve your customer loyalty. There are plenty of engineers and designers who are passionate about

the products they create and support. They will advocate for ideas that make the products better, but that

is not really the heart of the matter. The real question is whether the move to make something better

results in an offering that matters to your customers and is not easily copied.

Sherman, in chapter 6 of If You’re in a Dogfight, Become a Cat! notes that “[m]eaningful differentiation

should be a company’s consummate strategic objective. No business can succeed long-term unless it

maintains a compelling consumer value proposition.” (p. 131).

The real question in the pursuit of meaningful differentiation is the one that was introduced last week:

“What can you do to change the playing field?”

7 WAYS TO WIN

Here is a brief outline of seven of the most common proven ways that organizations can create

competitive advantages and secure a dominant place in the market. The list is not exhaustive, and

you may discover that some strategists divide their approaches up a little differently. That’s fine. The

purpose is not to force potential strategic moves into overly rigid categories. It is to make use of

groupings as a way to help you create and evaluate a checklist of options that might point to the right

growth paths for your business. Besides, few strategic moves are undertaken in isolation. While

many will be centered on a single core focus area, most will have other elements – such as branding

– working together to support the initiative.

When considering any strategic move, you will have to assess not just whether the idea could make

money, but also whether it could actually backfire by distracting your organization from its core business.

You also have to assess what it would take to implement the move. Is it simple or complex? Is the

cost high or low? Is it risky or relatively safe? Does it align with the mission, or does it require the

organization to redefine why it is in business?

As you review the following, keep in mind that the best moves are those that actually expand the market

by bringing in new customers, rather than just finding ways to get a larger share of an existing pie.

1. Geographic Expansion

One of the most straightforward ways to grow your business is to expand geographically. You can think of

plenty of examples of such growth, including Target stores expanding into Mexico, or a local company

expanding nationally. The logic is that if something is working well in one market, then reproducing the

success elsewhere should be an obvious path to growth – just keep repeating what worked.

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JWI 540 – Lecture Notes (1214) Page 5 of 11

However, to say that this type of move is “straightforward” is not to say it is easy. The factors that have

led to success in a particular city, region, or country may be quite different than those in the new

geography. Further, expansion of any sort takes resources. Attempting aggressive geographic growth

without adequate funding and a good plan is an almost guaranteed recipe for failure.

If you are considering a geographic expansion for your business, you will need to carefully assess a wide

range of questions, including:

• How do the competitive dynamics in your new market compare to your current one?

• How will the expansion be managed?

• Are there supply chain or quality-control challenges that could surface with the new geography

that are not present in your current market?

• Is the customer base different in the new geography?

• What will the management and ownership structure look like? Is franchising a way to go?

• If you are considering an international expansion, an additional set of issues comes into play,

including taxation, regulation, cultural and legal differences, etc. Are you prepared to address

these issues?

Still, despite all this, geographic expansion – when properly managed – is one of the most proven

pathways to generating growth, and one worthy of consideration for any business that has the potential

for scalability.

2. New Price Tiers

Outside of commodity sales or products that have very tightly defined performance requirements, such as

any products that have strict safety standards, nearly all businesses will position their offerings along a

price-performance or price-quality continuum. Typically, there will be groups of customers who, given a

range of choices, will self-select the price-performance intersection that is right for them. The automotive

industry is a classic example of this. Toyota built a successful business selling reasonably priced cars that

were reliable. Believing there was an opportunity in the luxury segment, they developed the Lexus brand,

which has been hugely successful for them.

Price tier moves can go in the other direction, too. Mercedes and other German automotive brands that

were historically known for top-of-the-line cars started making entry-level models. The objective with

these moves was not just to sell more cars to a segment that was not part of their current market. It was

also to build loyalty by getting younger and less affluent customers into the brand earlier, and then

moving them up into their more premium models as they got older and their incomes rose. In reality, this

is exactly what General Motors was doing back in its prime with its suite of offerings from Chevy to

Pontiac to Oldsmobile to Buick and eventually to Cadillac. While not every customer had the means to

move all the way to the top, GM’s ability to deliver a wide range of solutions to the same customers was –

for a while – a successful example of levering pricing tiers to drive brand loyalty.

As you consider the potential of developing a new pricing tier for your offerings, you will need to assess:

• Whether you can actually deliver a higher or lower tier of offerings. There may be certain

minimum performance demands that cannot presently be met at a lower price point. There might

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JWI 540 – Lecture Notes (1214) Page 6 of 11

be performance limits that cannot be surpassed at any price point. If they can be surpassed, the

cost may be beyond what the market is willing to pay.

• How an up-market or down-market offering will be perceived. A mid-level brand seeking to enter

into a premium-tier space will typically have a lot of work to do to build the reputation and status

needed to succeed. Conversely, premium brands considering a less expensive offering have to

assess whether such a move will jeopardize the brand. Think about ultra-premium brands. What

might happen if Rolls-Royce or Bentley started offering modestly priced, entry-level cars? What if

Rolex started marketing a $500 wristwatch?

3. Vertical Integration

Vertical integration refers to supply chain moves in which companies take over additional parts of the

production process, and potentially the distribution process, too. As you evaluate your supply chain and

how your product is created and delivered to the customer, think about ways of eliminating interim steps

or completely changing how your customer purchases or receives your product. This tactic can be one of

the most powerful ways of changing the playing field.

Supply chain optimization became a hot topic in the mid-70s through the 80s. A whole consulting

specialization was built around this, but the principles are at least as old as the Industrial Revolution. In

the early 20th century, companies like Ford owned almost the entire production chain from raw materials

to finished products. At one point, Ford even owned the land and harvested the rubber that went into

tires. But there are also plenty of more modern examples, such as Apple deciding to make their own

chips instead of buying from Intel.

Vertical integration strategies are about improving business alignment in ways that allow profits generated

from previously outsourced or inefficient production to be realized internally. These operational

efficiencies result in improvements in pricing, speed, or quality. Such efficiencies, if properly exploited,

can create value that is meaningful if passed on to your customers.

Additionally, vertical integration can increase supply chain control and security. Most suppliers sell to

more than one single buyer. That means that buyers – even ones with a lot of power, like Walmart or

Apple – still have to purchase from vendors who have other customers. These competing demands on

the seller can lead to delays and risks, including quality control issues.

The opposite of vertical integration is outsourcing – taking a part of the production process that is

currently done in-house and finding an external provider to take over the task. Specialized providers are

often more efficient at performing these tasks, since that is all they do. It is their core competency, and

they have developed tools and expertise that would take non-specialists years to replicate.

If you are considering a vertical integration or an outsourcing move for your business, you’ll have to

assess some important questions:

• What evidence do you have that you possess or could efficiently develop the expertise and

capacity to take over a production phase currently handled by a supplier?

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JWI 540 – Lecture Notes (1214) Page 7 of 11

• Even if you can take it over profitably, should you? If the profit margins are lower than those of

your core business, or if taking it over creates a distraction that draws resources and focus away

from your core business, then a move that looks good on paper could actually hurt the business.

• If you do make the move, what will it allow you to do that you could not do before? What would

stop your competitors from making a similar move, thus negating any advantage you had gained?

4. Moving into Adjacent Product Segments

Expanding into adjacent product groups can be a winning move for companies whose products are

closely associated with other functions. Think about Nike expanding from clothes and shoes into making

golf clubs and golf balls.

The success of these sorts of moves typically depends on being able to capitalize on one or both of the

following:

• Leveraging a strong brand connection. This occurs when customers like a brand so much for its

core offerings that they are open to expanding their interaction with it into other areas.

• The “convenience play.” Consider, for example, a company that only sold furniture, but expands

to also sell design services, or the gas station that adds a car wash. Is it the best car wash in

town? Probably not. But if you can add the purchase of a car wash at the pump when you finish

filling up, and the car wash is right there, then why not? It’s not so much about a strong brand

connection. It is about the convenience. If a customer can buy two items from one supplier, it may

just be easier than managing two separate buying processes.

5. New Distribution Channels

Another way a company can create meaningful differentiation is through identifying a new way to

distribute their products or services. Amazon and Netflix enjoyed tremendous growth by leveraging novel

ways of distributing existing products and becoming experts in their fields. Amazon accomplished this by

offering a vast array of consumer products at lower prices and shipping directly to their customers'

doorsteps. In addition to the convenience of home shipping, Amazon eliminated the "middleman," local

stores, and could offer cheaper prices. Netflix accomplished a similar feat by making movies available by

mail, and then through the Internet through a variety of devices. This paradigm shift in how consumers

could access movies stole a huge market share from the largest vendor of movie rentals, Blockbuster,

ultimately leading to its bankruptcy.

Building a winning move around opening new distribution channels is, in some ways, similar to moving

into a new geography. The core principle is to get your same product offerings in front of more buyers.

Another example of this is Iams dog food expanding from specialty pet stores into mass market grocery

stores. Originally a premium product, sold only through specialty stores, Iams was well-liked by its

customers. But a significant number of pet owners wanted the convenience of being able to buy their dog

food at the same time and place that they bought their own groceries, and they were unwilling to make a

separate trip to a specialized retailer.

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JWI 540 – Lecture Notes (1214) Page 8 of 11

Opening new distribution channels can enable businesses to gain access to new markets with little to no

disruption to the current function. As such, this is often a lower-risk strategy. However, lower-risk does not

mean no-risk. Opening new channels can take considerable work to not only identify viable channels, but

also negotiate distribution terms and, once the new channel is operational, manage the channel. There

may be pricing concessions required that can negatively impact margins. There is also a possibility of

backlash from current distributors who feel your new sales channels are a threat to their business and an

insult to their loyalty. But in general, and despite these cautionary factors, the more ways you can get

your products to qualified buyers, the better.

As you explore ideas to open new distribution channels for your business, you will want to look at all the

ways that your current competitors get to market. You will also need to assess whether it is worth gaining

market share if your margins are reduced to the point that either your quality or ability to meet demand is

threatened.

6. Discontinuous Innovation

Every once in a while, individuals and companies hit upon an idea that is so revolutionary, it disrupts the

way that business is done. Often, these breakthroughs are technological in nature, such as Tesla

launching battery-powered autos. But other times, the breakthrough is less about a new technology than

it is about creating value for customers through a different operating model, such as Southwest Airlines

building a business around point-to-point flights, standardized planes, and quick turnarounds at the gate.

It is well and good to always be on the lookout for innovations that have the potential to disrupt. But if

you do not have any idea of what the breakthrough would look like, or the R&D budget needed to

fund it, this may not be a viable winning move at this point in time. Discontinuous innovation is a

wonderful way to gain market share. Every company should spend some time thinking about what it can

do differently to totally disrupt the market, but changes in the very way that products function (e.g.,

Apple’s iPhone) or that customers buy (e.g., Amazon) are rare. Investing too much energy into seeking

groundbreaking “eureka” moves can distract from continuous improvement and from being a good

operator of the current business.

As you assess whether there is a potential for discontinuous innovation for your business, you have to:

• Identify the most fundamental problems that are just not getting addressed with the current

solutions.

• Determine, if you were to innovate and disrupt, how difficult it would be for your competitors to

copy your move.

• Look for ways to get more out of your team with brainstorming sessions or with incentive

programs that reward new ideas.

• Look outside your industry for ideas that could be transferable.

7. Mergers, Acquisitions, and Strategic Alliances

Especially in crowded industries, one of the most dramatic and powerful ways to change the playing field

is to acquire or merge with a competitor. Companies can benefit from economies of scale and pooling

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JWI 540 – Lecture Notes (1214) Page 9 of 11

resources together to increase efficiency. They can also broaden their product portfolio and possibly their

geographical reach.

As you evaluate your possible strategic direction, give some serious thought to whether an acquisition or

a merger may be the most effective way to gain competitive advantage. Do not let old biases and grudges

blind you to the potential of what such a move could accomplish. The more commoditized your industry,

the more likely your company’s size may be important for success. In fact, M&A is such a significant

pathway to market leadership, that we will focus on it in Week 8 of our course.

There are numerous reasons why an M&A move can be a winning one, but the majority of these come

down to one single element – efficiency. This pursuit of efficiency typically falls into one of three

categories:

• Economy-of-scale drivers where being larger enables companies to negotiate better deals with

suppliers or distributors, or where manufacturing or selling in larger quantities creates better

operating margins.

• Ending a futile competition in a market without a growing pie. Think about Sirius merging with XM

Radio, or about the numerous airline mergers that have taken place over the last two decades.

• Acquiring a capability or access to a market segment that would take longer or cost more to

develop organically.

About strategic alliances: Although often not as involved as an M&A deal, strategic alliances offer an

alternative approach to achieving many of the same benefits. By negotiating terms of how each partner

will combine resources, customers, or capacity, collective synergies can be created. Consider, for

example, the mutual benefits achieved by the partnership between Barnes & Noble and Starbucks that

began in 1993. At the time, both companies had a similar vision and a compatible customer base. The

presence of Starbucks coffee in the bookstores added to the close community feel that Barnes & Noble

desired for its customers. The partnership also attracted customers to the bookstore during morning

hours, a time period that was previously known for decreased customer traffic. In turn, Starbucks was

able to retain ownership of its cafés within the physical footprint of the Barnes & Noble stores, which was

a much less expensive proposition than opening their own stores in specific locations. Starbucks also

generated more customers who would take breaks from their shopping to enjoy a cup of coffee. This

strategic alliance served both companies very well for years.

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JWI 540 – Lecture Notes (1214) Page 10 of 11

SUCCEEDING BEYOND THE COURSE

As you read the materials and participate in class activities, stay focused on the key learning outcomes

for the week and how they can be applied to your job.

• Examine “meaningful differentiation” as a strategic lever

Too many companies allow themselves to believe that what is important to them is also important

to their customers. You don’t get to define what your customers will see as a meaningful

differentiator, that is up to them. Explore ways of engaging your customers in your strategy

development. Ask, “What would make a real difference to the way this product satisfies your

needs, and what would you be willing to pay for it?” Depending on what business you’re in, you

may even be able to enlist the help of your customers and get them to purchase a product before

others have access to it. In exchange for their guidance, you could even offer an attractive

discount to early adopters.

• Explore ways to identify unmet needs and untapped market segments

This is a great time to review Jack’s first slide. Don’t treat the strategy development process as a

one-way journey from slide 1 through slide 5. As you explore new ideas for winning moves,

some of these may lead you to reevaluate your assessment of the playing field, customer needs,

and market segmentation.

• Assess the market potential of new or improved solutions

Assuming your organization has delivered at least one disruptive move over the last year, gather

your team and discuss the following questions:

o What is the cumulative impact of the disruption on the growth of our business?

o Is the impact of our disruptive actions on our business more or less than any disruptive

moves made by our competition on their businesses?

If you can’t come up with a single example of a game-changing move you made in the last year,

it may be time for a significant review of the overall vitality of your business. A year without any

attempt at a game-changing move is a long time!

If you can’t come up with a single example of a move your competitors made, it may be sign that

your industry is in a mature phase of growth where “business as usual” is the motto. If this is the

case, it may be time for you to shake things up!

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JWI 540 – Lecture Notes (1214) Page 11 of 11

ACTION PLAN

To apply what I have learned this week in my course to my job, I will…

Action Item(s)

Resources and Tools Needed (from this course and in my workplace)

Timeline and Milestones

Success Metrics

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