Avoiding Imitation

September 27, 2017

Dear Strategy:

“What examples of established large companies can you share that have successfully undergone a product strategy transformation?”

When I was first promoting my book, Creative Strategy Generation, back in 2015, I hired a PR firm to help me land some radio interviews. (This, of course, was before I launched my big podcasting career!) I remember during one of those interviews, I was asked some version of this question that, frankly, threw me for a loop.

“Can you give me some examples of companies that have successfully used your process?” the host asked.

“Um… Err… Um…” was my not so eloquent reply.

As you can probably guess, the interview only went downhill from there.

Of course, I did get better at being a radio guest as time went on. But I never did get a chance to fully redeem myself on this question, so I’m going to give you some version of what I should have said here:

No company that I know of takes any one framework and applies it singularly. And, thank goodness for that; because, if they did, they would very likely have created the same strategy as someone else!

The point of any good strategy process or framework is to use it as inspiration; not to adopt it blindly or without modification. The basics of each framework will very likely be the same, but what you do with those basics is what’s going to set your strategy apart from everyone else. And that’s where you need to tap into your own creativity to find your own path. Do as a songwriter might do: be inspired – but never, ever copy.

So, yes, I can give many examples of companies that have successfully undergone a product strategy transformation. And almost all of them have taken some combination of processes, frameworks, and theories and used them to create and forge their own unique paths in the marketplace.

So, if I tell you who those companies are, what are you going to do with that information? Are you going to do exactly as they did? Or are you going to use their stories as sources of inspiration to create your own unique plan?

If it’s the latter, then let’s talk. There may just be a place for you on my show!


Listen to the podcast episode
Dear Strategy: Episode 017




Bob Caporale is the author of Creative Strategy Generation and the host of the Dear Strategy podcast. You can learn more about his work by visiting bobcaporale.com.

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