As strategic outcomes are the result of strategic inputs and strategic actions, the right inputs and effective actions would bring about excellent outcomes. Hitt, Ireland and Hoskisson (2007) suggest that effective strategic actions that take place in the context of carefully integrated strategy formulation and implementation actions result in desired strategic outcomes. However, the question is that should a single ordinary strategy be applied all the times, or should we allow the possibility of emergent actions under a particular set of circumstances? While a series of ad hoc brilliant strategies could provide the firm with a competitive map to success, however, a consistently applied could lead to success since of it regularly adapt to the environment. Therefore, this essay would argue that both types of strategies are important, as long as they fit to the environment with appropriated implementation.
Firstly, the strategy needs to be applied consistently to assure the stability of the organization based on the overall business landscape. As environment always impact on a firm's operation, it is necessary that company need to apply its strategies to fit into the landscape. That would help it maintain/or gain competitive advantage. And 'Strategic flexibility' allow firm to cope with uncertainty and its accompany risks. Hitt et al. (2007) identify strategic flexibility as a set of capabilities used to response to various demands and opportunities existing in a dynamic and uncertain competitive environment, firms should try to develop strategic flexibility in all areas of their operations. John Browne (cited in Prokesch, 1997), CEO of British Petroleum stated that 'in order to generate extraordinary value for shareholders, a company has to learn better than its competitors and apply that knowledge throughout its business faster and more widely than they do'
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Given an example of this, Sony Corp. is one example of company that had applied its strategy to fit with landscape changed. In September 2005, Sony Corp. unveiled a new strategy that was intended to ensure the firm's ability to earn above-average returns. Changes in the manufacture and distribution of televisions and in its portable music players' productions are examples of issues Sony addressed when altering its strategy (cited in Hitt et al., 2007). In contrast, General Motors (GM) went to trouble in mid-2005 due to unaware of environmental changes. At that period of time, raw materials costs (such as steel) were increasing dramatically across the globe but the company kept making noncore business (including making vehicles for handicaps and trucks) and offered high number brands and models, while its competitors provided smaller number that allowed products to be distinctive and less cost of marketing campaign (cited in Hitt et al., 2007). Perhaps, if GM actively analyse the environment and apply its strategy to fit into the changes of landscape, the company could be able to do better.
These examples illustrated that firms must have strategies, and need to apply strategies consistently. The initial strategy could be normal, but based on the practice and learning from the fact, the firm could achieve brilliant results from its process. However, this approach may only suitable with some industries that have less level of competition, more stable and slowly change.
Even though many companies realise that they need to analyse the environment and apply their strategies to fit into the landscapes, sometime it is difficult due to rapid changes and unpredictable of the environment. In this case, unprepared or urgent strategy may be appropriate. Thus a series of ad hoc brilliant strategies would enable a firm to be able to effectively response with uncertain, hypercompetitive environments. This is accomplished by alignment based on the combination of four factors; Competitive situation, Business strategy, Organizational culture and Leadership style (Hitt et al., 2007)
The 21st Century competitive landscape is filled with profound changes and uncertainty, fiercely competition; market change dynamically, increases number of stakeholder involvement, and increase philosophy of customer centric. Those trends make the company could not predict changes including environment and customer needs. Therefore, it should be recognized that any strategy or management style is appropriate only in a particular set of circumstances; it is almost impossible to search for universally applicable strategies and management styles. There are many authors and theorists that recommend the company to aware of unpredictable events and uncertainty situation.
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Under the manoeuvre theory, Pech & Slade (2004) suggest, as far as the business landscapes still need to be concerned, a turbulent and unpredictable environment requiring high flexibility of managers to handle rapid responses of competitors and the attitude of readiness for sudden events is very crucial in the modern business nowadays. Likewise, Game theory by Neumann & Morgenstern (cited in Turocy & Stengel, 2001) recommends that scanning both internal and external factors are necessary needed to understand the situation and possible moves and actions of competitors before developing and implementing any strategies. Furthermore, Blue ocean strategy suggest, action plans need to be there for rapid moves from competitor (Kim & Mauborgne, 2011). Under organizational perspective, John Kotter provided the 8 steps for change (cited in Robbins & Judge, 2007), success in business is often determined by how effective an organization manages change, the need for change is increasing and organizations must be capable of effective change in order to succeed in the future.
According to Lynch (2006), the variation of execution depends on the uncertainty in predicting changes in the environments, even the best strategy, managers should implement it bases on the information at the current time about external and internal environment. A study of 275 portfolio managers reported that the ability to execute strategy was more important than the quality of the strategy itself (Kaplan & Norton, 2001).
Portable audio players' industry is a good example of the landscape change rapidly. Since 2001, the revolution of digital world by Apple iPod had such a huge impact on the landscape. Steve Jobs took portable music to a new level. The company offers a cohesive range of service, hardware, software, and digital retail. That created its unbeatable position in the market, and changed the whole landscape in which its competitors ware unaware (Hayden, 2010). Apart from the successfulness of Apple, its competitors are suffering. Including Sony who used to be success with Sony Walkman more than 30 years on the market. Danwood (2010) mentioned, the most iconic music player of the 20th century is finally being laid to rest, with the rise of digital media players Apple iPod, the demand for cassette-based devices has dried up. Sony eventually stopped production of the legendary cassette-based Walkman.
Hayden (2010) mentioned that Sony knew hardware but was at best so-so in retail and a total disaster at developing software. Some have speculated that Sony's failure to keep up in a segment that the company created was one of the reasons it has given the Walkman such a quiet send off.
A marketing consultant David Taber (cited in Weisbein, 2008) said, "While everyone else was making an MP3 player that was better/cheaper/faster, Apple was making electronic jewellery that also played MP3. Never focusing on price, they brought to market more value, more style, and new ways of interacting with digital media."
Apple educated its customers and provides products that can satisfy them. Apple knew what they were doing when they designed the iPod. They made it work better on the Mac than on a PC for obvious reasons; to get people to buy more Apple computers, both iPod and Mac sales benefited from this strategy (Weisbein, 2008).
This example demonstrates the winner and the looser. Even though Sony has much more experience in producing hardware, the changes of landscape require different core competencies. Perhaps, if some ad hoc strategy was there, the result may be better for Sony.
Apart from the main players, other companies are also impacted from the change. Several industries are modifying their products to work better with both the iPod line and the other Apple's products. For example; the Nike+iPod pedometer, iPod Camera Connector, external speakers, and wireless earphones. Furthermore, automobile industry also response to the influence of iPod. BMW was the first iPod automobile interface that allowing drivers to control an iPod using either the built-in steering wheel controls or the radio head-unit buttons (BMW, 2011). Follow by other brands. Today, almost car models will have iPod support.
As the essay has mentioned, change of landscape sometime are unpredictable. Flexibly management allows mangers to take quickly response to the change. In this sense, a series of ad hoc strategies seem to be wok better than an ordinary one.
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Nevertheless, a particular set of circumstance will set up an appropriate choice for the company. No matter what type of strategy should be used. As long as it can bring better strategic outcomes, that assist a firm to exploit core competencies and gain competitive advantages, the firm should take it. Moreover, the chosen strategy should serve customer needs.
Importantly, successful of strategy need mangers to understand the environment, allow them to identify strategic inputs correctly that will enhance the effectiveness of strategic actions (strategic formulation and strategic implementation). Consequently, that would bring about the best strategic outcomes. However, the real value of strategies can only recognized through execution. The emphasis on the execution process reveals the truth: it does not matter how good the strategy is, if you cannot make it happen. Many organizations know how to create the right strategy, but executing it is another matter.
In conclusion, this essay has discussed on the necessary of a consistently applied mediocre strategy and the important a series of ad hoc brilliant strategies. As it has argued earlier, both type of strategies are important, no one better that the other as long as they fit to the environment with appropriated implementation. Conditions and situations will determine the appropriated one. The essay gave several examples to illustrate different conditions that require different approach. The strategy needs to be applied consistently to assure the stability of the organization based on the overall business landscape. However, this approach may only suitable with some industries that have less level of competition, more stable and slowly change. On the other hands, ad hoc brilliant strategies would enable a firm to be able to effectively response with uncertain, hypercompetitive environments. The changes of landscape are sometime unpredictable. Hence flexibly management would allow mangers to take quickly response to the change. From the discussion that has been drawn, and examples have been given, this essay would like to suggest that no matter what type of strategy should be used as long as it can bring better strategic outcomes, satisfy customer needs, and fit with the environments.