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The Science of Strategy Selection: What’s the Best Framework?

There are literally 100s of Strategy frameworks. In our Strategy Development Stream alone, we have 40+ frameworks available.

With so many tools available, it can be difficult to determine what the right approach is for our organization.  When selecting the appropriate strategic approach, there are numerous important considerations for us to evaluate, including Corporate CultureOrganizational StructureLeadership StyleCompetitive Positioning, and Core Competencies, to name a few.

To help us with this process of Strategy framework selection, let’s take a look at the Strategy Framework Canvas (SFC). The SFC is a unifying choice framework that guides us in selecting the appropriate strategy for the circumstances at hand and execute it effectively. This model is particularly useful for large organizations that are now stretched across a more diverse and faster-changing range of business situations.

SFC identifies 5 distinct archetypal approaches to strategy:

  1. Classic
  2. Adaptive
  3. Visionary
  4. Leader
  5. Renewal

Classic Strategy

The Classic approach is the most common approach. In this situation, the market is predictable, basis of competition is stable, and strategy is sustainable.

Classic strategy is achieved through sustainable Competitive Advantage by positioning our organization optimally in an attractive market. Since the basis of Competitive Advantage within these environments is known and non-malleable, advantage can be based on superior scale, differentiation (or, equivalently, scale within a narrower market segment), or superior capabilities.

The most well-known Strategy frameworks are the Classics, such as:

Adaptive Strategy

We use the Adaptive approach when the environment is neither predictable nor malleable. There is continuous disruption in the market.

Unlike the Classic approach of sustainable Competitive Advantage, the foundation to the Adaptive approach to strategy is the notion of serial temporary advantage. Within unpredictable and non-malleable environments, the emphasis is on continuous experimentation and real-time adjustment—as opposed to long-term analysis and planning. Because advantage is temporary, we focus on means and not ends.

Examples of Adaptive frameworks include:

  • Time-based Competition
  • Temporary Advantage
  • Adaptive Advantage

Visionary Strategy

We take the Visionary approach when we can reliably create or re-create an environment by some degree of predictability by seeing an opportunity and pursuing it single-mindedly.

Visionary approaches are most frequently associated with entrepreneurial start-ups. However, large organizations increasingly need to adopt this approach for themselves, as well.

Examples here include:

Leader Strategy

The Leader Approach is used when the environment is unpredictable, but malleable. We can shape or re-shape the whole industry.

A Leader approach both permits and requires an organization to collaborate with others in a diverse ecosystem that distributes risk, supplies complementary capabilities and resources, and builds the market quickly through strength in numbers.

Examples of Leader frameworks include:

  • Networks
  • Ecosystems
  • Platforms

Renewal Strategy

Lastly, the Renewal strategy approach is used when the environment is harsh. This type of strategy aims to restore the vitality and competitiveness of the organization.

In such a harsh environment, the existing circumstances prevent the current way of doing business from being sustainable. The first step is to change course to preserve and free up resources.

Examples here include any type of the following:

Once we determine the type of Strategy approach to take, the next step is to adopt a Strategy Development framework most befitting our organization.

Interested in learning more about the SFC?  Take a look at our primer on the Strategy Framework Primer.  This primer is also part of the Strategy Development Stream, a collection of 35+ strategy frameworks.

About David Tang

David Tang is an entrepreneur and management consultant. His current focus is Flevy, the marketplace for premium business documents (e.g. business frameworks, presentation templates, financial models). Prior to Flevy, David worked as a management consultant for 8 years. His consulting experience spans corporate strategy, marketing, operations, change management, and IT; both domestic and international (EMEA + APAC). Industries served include Media & Entertainment, Telecommunications, Consumer Products/Retail, High-Tech, Life Sciences, and Business Services. You can connect with David here on LinkedIn.


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The Flevy Business Blog (https://flevy.com/blog) is a leading source of information on business strategies, business theories, and business stories. Most articles have been contributed for management consultants and industry executives with over 20 years of experience. If you would like to contribute an article, please email our editor David Tang at [email protected].

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