Like all general managers, Higher Ambition executives face the challenge of crafting and executing a winning strategy. What distinguishes Higher Ambition strategy is the realization that the most powerful foundations for enduring competitive advantage are the collective aspirations and capabilities of an organization’s people.
In this section of the site, you will find resources for developing a fresh, more powerful understanding of your firm’s unique character, capabilities, and organizational strengths that will, in turn, help you produce something that is more than strategy in the traditional sense. We think of it as a company’s strategic identity. This strategic identity goes to the heart of how an organization’s people understand their collective strengths, and goes beyond advertising and marketing to shape how the company is actually viewed by customers, suppliers, and the public—its true and authentic brand image.
Higher Ambition strategy is not a planning process undertaken by a few. It is an ongoing exercise that involves broad swaths of the organization in discerning and developing what is distinctive not only in what a company offers but in its relationships with its stakeholders.
Some of the themes that connect the posts, case studies, and other resources tagged as Strategy are:
Connecting heads, hands and hearts is essential in forging a meaningful strategic identity;
Organizational capability is strategy. This approach helps avoid the oft-seen disconnect between strategy and execution;
The ability to commit yet adapt. Long-term principles and vision are critical and should enable, not restrict, agility in the face of changing market conditions and customer needs.
Some suggestions to get you started are below. You may also search on “Strategy” to see the full array of what is available.
Rebecca Henderson, faculty member at Harvard Business School and former board member at the Center for Higher Ambition Leadership, explains why it is a strategic imperative to think beyond profits when crafting strategy.
In this video interview, Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter explains why companies must take the lead in bringing business and society back together to create shared value. The recognition is there among sophisticated business and thought leaders, he maintains, and promising elements of a new model are emerging. According to Porter, the solution lies in the principle of shared value, which involves creating economic value in a way that also creates value for society by addressing its needs and challenges. Businesses must reconnect company success with social progress. Shared value is not social responsibility, philanthropy, or even sustainability, but a new way to achieve economic success. It is not on the margin of what companies do but at the center. We believe that it can give rise to the next major transformation of business thinking. Porter has also written a Harvard Business Review article on the topic of Shared Value with Mark Kramer.
In their book Conscious Capitalism, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey and Babson College faculty member Raj Sisodia explain a new approach to strategy built on higher purpose, stakeholder integration, conscious leadership, and conscious culture and management. They include many case studies including Costco, UPS, The Container Store, and more.
We live in a more transparent world which offers both opportunities and challenges to companies with higher ambitions. In their book, One Report: Integrated Reporting for a Sustainable Strategy, Harvard Business School’s Robert Eccles and Michael Krzus of accounting firm Grant Thornton argue that both internal and external stakeholders expect greater corporate responsibility and accountability. What is needed, they say, is the integration of financial and non-financial reports to present a full picture.
Strategy maps give employees a clear line of sight into how their jobs are linked to the overall objectives of the organization, enabling them to work in a coordinated, collaborative fashion toward the company’s desired goals. In Having Trouble with Your Strategy? Then Map It, Balanced Scorecare originators Robert Kaplan and David Norton
explain how strategy maps provide a visual representation of a company’s critical objectives and the crucial relationships among them that drive organizational performance. Kaplan and Norton have also written a book on the topic of Strategy Maps.