Articles: Strategy

What is positioning?

Positioning is important for every organization. Yet there is no consensus on what the term means. Among positioning experts, Michael Porter talks about strategic advantage, Seth Godin talks about purple cows, and Clotaire Rapaille talks about tapping into enduring cultural archetypes. Are we really all discussing the same thing? Here is a simple description that I use to align teams and viewpoints: Positioning defines how external audiences see a company or product relative to its competitors. In…


Becoming #1

Long ago a colleague recommended that I read the book Eating the Big Fish by Adam Morgan. I did. At the time, I thought it was interesting, if simplistic. And then I continued to use it as a key tool in my professional work for the next dozen years. The core idea in Eating the Big Fish is that there are large incumbents in every market space, but “little fish” can come to dominate the ecosystem through…


The future of consulting

I’ve been thinking a lot about the future of consulting lately. This is a bit of an occupational hazard… I’ve been a consultant for almost 20 years, based in San Francisco, and I’ve run my own practice for eight years and counting. A long time ago I remember telling a colleague: “The consulting space is massive: multi-billions of dollars globally. Even if it were to shrink by 50%, there’d still be money on the table for those…


Beyond average thinking

Data science is changing global and local business. One might think that immense data sets and expensive tools are required to make sense of this increasingly complex world, but that’s not true. Before we even look at data sets, we can all cultivate better data sense. To that end, I’d encourage us all to look at one common kind of data with suspicion: the average. We all use averages on daily basis— e.g., when we split a…


What is marketing?

Marketing is one of those words that seems to have a different definition depending on who you ask. If you explore the huge volume of resources, history, and commentary out there regarding marketing, it quickly becomes obvious that these voices have little to do with each other. It’s hard to believe that they all describe aspects of the same general craft. I work with companies across a wide range of industries and levels of scale, so it…