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Still ‘sticking to your knitting’?

The Clifton Review 


The Clifton Review is a tri-weekly column that examines the question of the Clifton project along with the evolution of the war between two billionaires. We covered the start of this war with articles describing the battle over easement rights, the mysterious burning of a home, the blocks to rebuilding, and countless questionable court filings.

While the 2018 series salutes fashion mogul Peter Nygård’s Golden Jubilee detailing his rags to riches story, his incredible business success over these past fifty years and an inside look at how he did it, The Clifton Review will also continue to address current affairs as they relate to the good of The Bahamas.


Still ‘sticking to your knitting’?

By P.J. Malone

Does your business have a clear-cut purpose that you are sticking to no matter what changes are taking place around you? Then you may be at risk of having a business that is ‘boldly going nowhere’.

There was a time when the business catch phrase, ‘stick to your knitting’ was a very serious warning to businesses by strategists. Stick to you knitting is all about remaining focused on what you do best.

Unfortunately though, doing that in a twenty-first century world, especially with a new world order of technology, is no longer the smart thing to do. It works against making the changes that the times may demand.

If fashion mogul Peter Nygard had ‘stuck to his knitting’, he would have remained a manufacturer and never became a retailer selling breakthrough designs that contributed to the phenomenal growth of his multi-million-dollar empire.

So, in aligning your organization, the idea of first having the right purpose is very important to your business viability.

In continuing to review the testing results from the Harvard Business Review article, “A Simple Way to Test Your Company’s Strategic Alignment” (By Jonathan Trevor and Barry Varcoe) the bottom right quadrant of the test result matrix is “Boldly going nowhere”. 

This is based on the x and y scales described as “How aligned is your strategy with your organizational capabilities?” and “How aligned is your strategy with your long-term purpose?” respectively. Trevor and Varcoe explain this result’s significance below:

Boldly going nowhere: Businesses that have strong alignment between their strategy and organization, but weak alignment between strategy and purpose are classed as “boldly going nowhere.” 

In our experience, there are many capable businesses with great people that lack a coherent, overarching purpose that helps guide shifts in strategy. The result is a company that becomes less and less capable over time as customers move on and talented employees depart for new pastures. 

Kodak is a famous example of a terrifically capable blue chip business brought low by confusion about how best to fulfil its purpose in the digital world. Although they developed digital photographic technology, too many people in the company focused on the core organizational competence of film. 

Instead of seeing digital cameras as a new way to execute on the organizational purpose of capturing “Kodak moments,” they hewed to their existing, film-centric strategy. That left them out of sync with the changing preferences of consumers for digital media and instant sharing.

(From “A Simple Way to Test Your Company’s Strategic Alignment” By Jonathan Trevor and Barry Varcoe:

It appears from Trevor and Varcoe’s description of Kodak that Kodak stuck to its knitting and had challenges redefining their purpose to take advantage of the fast-moving, continuously-evolving digital world.

Many individuals still likely use the term that’s a ‘Kodak moment’. As you can see from the article’s example, even the popularity of a business nor how well-known it is will save a business from an inability to grow and soar to new heights.

Business strategy, more now than ever, is essential to phenomenal business success. While every business strategy out there may not be a good fit for your organization, there are a number of them that business strategists would consider essential. Organizational alignment is one of them.

We will present the final test result from the Harvard Business Review article next.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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