Paul Leinwand and Cesare Mainardi for HBR this morning:
The surest way to build a company whose leadership will outlast your own is to focus your attention on the few essential things that your company can do better than anyone else. If you can reinforce that focus in every decision you make — from mergers & acquisitions to new product launch to budgeting or cutting costs — it can help you win market share, generate sustainable growth, or even turn around a decline.
It's not about following the path of greats, they say, rather having a clear understanding of what it is that you do best. And that's the tricky part, too: understanding what you do best. It is far too easy for organizations to become mired in day-to-day at the expense of clarity. If you're in this particular boat, be critical, and make 2011 the year of simplification. For everything you do, can you draw a line up the strategic plan from that activity to your organizational objectives?
Leinwand and Mainardi offer three "drivers of coherence" which are great, though one in particular really jumps out in support of the simplification challenge: "Can my team articulate the three to six capabilities that describe what we do uniquely better than anyone else and how these capabilities support our value proposition?"