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I frequently see postings and hear statements where people suggest that strategy is about being different.  Strategy is about differentiation.

Saying strategy needs to be different is a myth.  It is only a competitive strategy in a market to create distinct profits that requires difference.   Actually strategy can be the same and can be copied – it is how you copy and when that is important.

Here are some examples where copying a strategy is both sensible and effective.

eg 1For instance, of the 180 public sector local authorities in the  UK that do not compete.  If 100 adopted many of the  strategies of the 30 most successful there would be more successful local authorities.

eg 2 You could have several businesses in the same industry, adopting the same strategy in different markets.  Or in parts of teh same market.

eg 3.  If you want to also be as successful as the best salesman in your organisation, adopt the strategies he/she is using.  You actually want to copy strategy.

Choosing a follower strategy, and adopting the same strategy as they do, is still a strategy.  It is just that it might not lead to as successful results as the first mover.  However, second movers can adopt the same strategy  and be successful in the  longer term if they have other advantages.

Here are two more examples where copying a strategy is fine:

eg 4: The strategy can be copied, but executed far better.  It is as much about execution.

eg 5:  The strategy can be copied and have far more resources behind it, so it is more successful.

As long as it is a clear problem backed up with thorough diagnosis, consistent choices of strategies and coherent action, then you can copy – but only if you have thought through how it will work, for you.

The big message from me is this:

If you want to copy a strategy, Copy how they think, not necessarily what they do. How they think is where strategy really resides.

What next?

We run a number of strategic thinking courses to help clients and individuals develop their strategic thinking ability.  To find out how to think more strategically contact us.