Manufacturing leaders turned into Strategists

The book The Strategist by Harvard professor Cynthia Montgomery came out in May of 2012 and provides insight about leadership and its close connection to strategy. Montgomery discusses how strategy should be a continuous journey which can really set one company apart from its competitors. Here are some of the issues discussed in her book and how manufacturing leaders can implement them in their own business.

  • There is no such thing as a “Super Manager.” Montgomery discusses a company which went through a massive expansion buying virtually all of their competition to become one of the largest manufacturers in their space at the time. However, after this explosive growth their company began to lose money. She attributes this to the myth of the Super Manager; the insistence that a good manager with vision can overcome any obstacle. This overconfidence can lead to a disconnected strategy that actually puts the business at a disadvantage.
  • Competitive pressure.  It is certainly encouraged to evaluate your competition but Montgomery cautions against using this information to attempt to out-compete the competitor. Recognize the space where you and they differ and rather than attempting to fill that gap offer better services for the things you provide that they cannot. Superior management skills cannot compensate for stretching the business too thin.
  • Add value. Montgomery suggests creating value around your product that increases the customer experience. Whether your business is direct to the consumer or business-to-business you can provide value above and beyond their expectations. She uses Swedish furniture giant Ikea as an example. Beyond being just a furniture store, Ikea offers a full sensory experience. They do this by specializing in affordable modern furniture at reasonable prices but offer extras; like their cafeteria for those who want to come out to the store and an exceptional website for those who don’t. Determine what it is that your company excels at and add in the extras to make your customer’s experience exceptional.

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