The BCG book, released on August 29, revisits strategy and execution in dynamic business environments and calls for companies to master ambidexterity
Martin Reeves, the keynote speaker at the book launch at IIMB on August 29, is a Senior Partner and Managing Director in BCG’s New York office and leads the Bruce Henderson Institute.
The Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIMB) hosted the launch of the BCG book, ‘Your Strategy Needs a Strategy’, at 2:30 pm on Saturday, 29th of August 2015, at the IIMB auditorium.
Opening his talk with the question, ‘Is strategy dead?’ and quoting the king of strategy Professor Michael Porter, Martin Reeves, Senior Partner and Managing Director in BCG’s New York office and one of the co-authors of the book, remarked: “Strategy is constantly under attack from technology, from execution, etc.”
“Strategy,” he continued, “is a matter of life and death for companies; it’s far more important to business than technology which is more fashionable. The critical thing that has impacted strategy is the diversity in the environments in which businesses operate.”
Explaining the ‘strategy palette’ suggested in the book, Reeves said malleability, harshness and unprofitability impact the choice of strategy. “The five golf clubs that you need to play strategy are the classical approach (Mahindras), the adaptable approach (TCS), the visioning and scaling approach as practised by entrepreneurs (UPS), the shaping markets approach (Ali Baba) and the renewal approach (American Express).”
Suggesting that it is no longer a panacea to rely on the classical approach, he said top management in companies must mix and match and recirculate resources from their old menus while adapting more than one style of strategy at all times. “Companies must choose adaptive practices and market-shaping practices while mastering ambidexterity, and ambidextrous companies need leaders who can embrace contradictions,” he stated, adding that an effective leader is one who is a disruptor, an inquisitor, a diagnostician, a salesperson, a segmenter, an accelerator, and someone who leads with questions rather than instructions.”
The journey for the book, Reeves revealed, was born in India, thanks to a chance comment by Arun Maira, management consultant and former member of the Planning Commission of India, who will also be launching his own book at IIM Bangalore very soon. “When he heard about our idea for the book, Arun asked me to get to where the action is and that’s when I began meeting companies like the Tata Consulting Services, the Mahindras and many others in India and other emerging markets,” Reeves said.
Co-authored by Martin Reeves, Knut Haanaes and Janmejaya Sinha, the book looks at how executives are bombarded with best-selling ideas and best practices for achieving competitive advantage, but many of these ideas and practices often contradict with each other. So the questions for them are: ‘Should you aim to be big or fast? Should you create a blue ocean, be adaptive, play to win, or forget about a sustainable competitive advantage altogether?’ The authors point out that in a business environment that is changing fast and becoming more uncertain and complex by the day, it’s never been more important, or more difficult, to choose the right approach to strategy.
Earlier in the afternoon, Professor Dinesh Kumar, Quantitative Methods and Information Systems area, and Chairperson, Executive Post Graduate Programme in Management (EPGP), IIMB, welcomed Reeves and introduced him to the audience.
The book launch came to a close with a demo of a game developed by the co-authors of the book, where the player/ strategist navigates challenges choosing some or all of the 5 approaches detailed in the strategy palette, represented by the 5 boroughs of New York City, in the game. The talk was followed by an energetic Q&A session, where IIMB students drew Reeves into a conversation about horses for courses – the need for different strategies for developed markets and emerging ones.
About the authors:
Martin Reeves, the keynote speaker at the book launch, is a Senior Partner and Managing Director in BCG’s New York office and leads the Bruce Henderson Institute, BCG’s vehicle for research and translation of ideas from beyond the world of business, into impactful frameworks and tools for strategy. Knut Haanaes is the Senior Partner at BCG’s Geneva (Switzerland) office and global leader of BCG’s Strategy Practice. Knut also leads BCG’s Sustainability Initiative and is responsible for BCG’s partnership with MIT, the World Economic Forum and WWF for Sustainability. Janmejaya Sinha is the present Chairman of Boston Consulting Group (BCG) Asia Pacific. Currently, he is also the Chairman of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Committee on Financial Inclusion and member of their national council.