wisdom to win

 Wisdom to Win
search bar left
search bar right

Igor Ansoff (1918-2002)igor ansoff


American expert on strategy (pictured right) whose textbook, Corporate Strategy, was very influential (see below).


Key book


Corporate Strategy (1st edition, 1965)

 A successful company does five things extremely well:


1. Defines and achieves its strategic objectives 

Gap analysis is required where you attempt to find a strategy that fills the gap between

  • where you are now and
  • where you want to be in the future.


2. Chooses a strategy that creates “synergy”

Synergy leads to a strategy's results being greater than the resources spent on it

(often described as 2+2=5).


3. Exploits market opportunities and organizational strengths, whilst minimizing the impact of the organization's weaknesses and external threats (e.g. competition).


4. Achieves product differentiation

This makes products distinctly superior to competitors.


5. Chooses one of four product-market strategies


igor ansoff

The product-market matrix (now often known as Ansoff's box - see above) shows four possible product-market strategies:


  • Market penetration – existing products, existing markets.
  • Market development – existing products, new markets.
  • Product development – new products, existing markets.
  • Diversification – new products, new markets.

But an over-emphasis on strategic planning can slow down decision making (“paralysis by analysis”).


Market change is the biggest influence on strategy and there are two possible responses to it:


1. Reactive -  in response to market changes, improving:

  • organizational capabilities (including employee performance) and/or
  • products.


2. Proactive - improvements based on anticipating future market changes (this becomes more necessary as change increases).


There are four ways to manage change (the first two are quick but provoke great employee resistance):


1. Coercive

Forcing change.


2. Crisis

Changing when the organization's survival is threatened.


3. Adaptive (small, incremental change)

This is slow but minimizes employee resistance.


4. Managed resistance

This is also known as the “accordion method”, because it becomes

  • more coercive (as urgency increases) and...
  • more adaptive (as urgency decreases).

This is best when the urgency isn't great enough to require coercion or crisis management.


To minimize resistance employees should be involved in making changes.


Key quotes on strategy

Paralysis by analysis.

Strategic management is...assessing where you can be and deciding what you want to be.

Free Newsletter
Enter your name and e-mail address to receive our free newsletter with analysis of business issues and new business books