“If there were a Mount Rushmore for technological innovation, Bill Gates, Andy Grove, and Steve Jobs would be the faces looking outward.” These longtime CEOs of Microsoft, Intel, and Apple created three of the most highly valued companies in the world. How were they able to drive their companies through decades of changing technologies? Did they have anything in common? Is there anything we can learn from them about successful strategy?
David Yoffie and Michael Cusumano find common leadership lessons from the tech titans of Microsoft, Intel, and Apple in their new book, Strategy Rules.
“When I mention I wrote the book, the first response I get is, ‘I can’t imagine three more different people,'” says Yoffie. Besides their contrasting personalities, their companies had unique business models and filled very different niches.
Yet, each approached strategy and execution in remarkably similar ways—and markedly differently from their competitors—keeping their focus on five strategy rules:
- Look Forward, Reason Back: They determined where they want their companies to be in the future and could “reason back” to identify the moves that would take them there.
- Make Big Bets, Without Betting the Company: All three men made enormous strategic bets but rarely took gambles that put the financial viability of their companies at undue risk.
- Build Platforms and Ecosystems: Technology leaders have to create industry platforms that enable other firms to create complementary products and services that make the platforms increasingly valuable.
- Exploit Leverage and Power: Gates, Grove, and Jobs often turned opponents’ strengths into weaknesses and used enormous resources (once they had them) to dominate competitors.
- Shape the Company around Your Personal Anchor: From Gates’ understanding of software to Grove’s devotion to process discipline and Jobs’ obsession with design, all three built their companies around their personal strengths while compensating for their weaknesses.
Rivals can easily copy your operational effectiveness, but they can’t copy your strategic positioning–what distinguishes you from all the rest. Having a clear strategy requires you to make trade-offs in competing by choosing what not to do. Can you apply these strategy rules to your business?
Contact me here for help developing your strategy rules.
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