I interviewed Dr. Marc Sniukas who discussed Dr. Marc New Book on Strategy for Executives.
Nice to speak to you, Dr. Marc. Can you first provide a brief background of yourself before we start the interview?
Yeah, sure. My name is Marc Sniukas. I'm European.I'm based in Luxembourg, Europe. My expertise is in strategic innovation and corporate entrepreneurship, so I work with companies to renew themselves, to develop innovative strategies, breakthrough business models, and new revenue models. And I do this on a global scale.
And the experiences from the last couple of years and also my research on how companies create new business models—my doctoral research which I did at the Manchester Business School—led to a new book.
Can you talk about the book? What is it about?
Yeah, sure.So, the book is called the The Art of Opportunity, How to Build Growth and New Ventures through Strategic Innovation and Visual Thinking. The book is, first of all, about a new approach to strategy. Traditional strategy is all about how to position yourself, so you can be a low cost player, or you could focus on a niche. We talk about strategy as discovering and seizing new opportunities for growth. So, we go a little bit away from that. You have to position yourself, but rather look at how can you discover opportunities for new growth, and how can you seize these opportunities with innovative new strategies.
A recent example, just today in the news it was announced that Apple did not hit its growth target, or its revenues are actually going down. So, for the first time since 2003, I think. So, that's a typical example of where the book would come in. If you can't grow anymore from your established core business, where can you find opportunities for new growth outside of that established business?
Why is this book on strategy different?
The difference is, as I said, first of all there's a different take on strategy. So, it's about sensing and seizing niche opportunities. So, we go into... Typically, a traditional strategy is concerned with where to play, which is then a combination of a product market mix. You choose a product, and then you go into a market, or you choose a market, and then you try to position your product.
How to win in traditional strategies is all about either you have to differentiate or you have to be low cost or, as we have seen also with new takes on strategy, like [inaudible 00:02:46] for example, trying to combine value for the customer the low cost for the company.
Now, in the book, The Art of Opportunity, we talk about where to play, and we talk about finding new growth opportunities by looking at existing customers and their customer experience, looking into what makes it a good customer experience, or what are the barriers to good customer satisfaction. And we talk about very strongly, looking at non-customer. So, looking at people who can't or aren't willing to buy your product, and to look into what are their needs, what is their job to be done, and what could be a customer experience that turns them into actual customers. So, we have many examples. One of them is the leading German TV company, ProSieben, for example. They looked at who doesn't buy TV advertising from us. And typically, it's startups and small companies, because first of all, they cannot afford to spend the money on TV advertising. They might not have the cash. Cash is gone, so they don't want to invest or spend the money on something where there is an unsecure return, and they simply don't have the experience of working with that.
So, ProSieben looked at what is the business model, and what kind of strategy can we offer so that we can turn startups and small and medium companies into customers. So, make it attractive to them, reduce the risk for them, while at the same time, keeping our profit margins high. And they came up with a model which allows to invest, where they invest with media for equity and media for revenue share, for example, into startups.
So, this is the where to play. The how to play, we talk about developing new strategy, designing your strategy, and designing your strategy for us means you need to design the offering, which is a combination of your product, your services, and your customer experience. Than you need to design your business models. So, basically, all the activities that you carry out, and how are you going to carry them out, how are you going to collaborate with partners in your ecosystem. And it's also about designing your revenue model. The revenue model, again, is then a combination of your choices in terms of revenue streams, pricing mechanisms, and also payment mechanism.
And then, the third element we go into is how to win. So, as I said earlier, traditional strategy is about you win by either being low cost or by differentiating or maybe by combining these two things. And we talk about creating value for, obviously, for the customer, but also creating value for your company. And this really can go beyond simply being cheaper or having lower costs. There are strategic value, there's operational value, there is financial value.
And we also talk about creating value for your ecosystem. So, the partners that you have.
So, this is a new take on strategy in terms of the content, let's say. Then we also, for a new take on strategy regarding the process. So, typically strategy process is all about first you do an analysis, and then you plan, and then you implement. And we offer an iterative process on what we call inception phase, and evolution phase, and the diffusion phase. So, basically, you have three phases that new ventures need to go through. And as you go through these phases, the maturity and sophistication of strategy, it increases step by step.
So, this is more about the content of the book. And then I think what is also different is how we did the book and what the book looks like. So, first of all, the book is based on, as I said earlier, professional experience and also academic research. So, it's not just ideas we have. It's not something theoretical and conceptual. It's something that companies do, and it's something leading edge companies practice at the moment.
And at the same time, there was this conceptual level. And at the same time, we're going very deep into offering activities that companies can do. You can do it with your team. You can do it on your own. So, we offer workshop activities to discover new customer groups. For example, we offer activities for designing your strategy. We offer a bunch of posters, templates, inspiration cards that you can use to visualize the result of your efforts.
So, that's three things, let's say, make it different. Different concepts, different process, and going down into very detailed activities that you can do.
Who should care most about this book?
The primary target audience is obviously CEO level, CXO-level people, people that are in charge of the development of their companies. And also, everybody who's into responsible for strategy, responsible for [inaudible 00:07:46] development, responsible for product development. And also everybody who's responsible for new business development. So, basically, if you have anything to do with strategy, with your offering, your business model, if you're in charge of business development, growing your business revenues, then this is the book for you.
The book was actually more written for corporates, so for established companies, not so much for startups. Although, we can learn a lot from it, but the primary audience is really established larger companies looking into how they can find new growth and build new growth ventures.
Do you have any final recommendations on how to take action for people who are looking for new growth opportunities?
Yeah. In the book we talk about using design thinking, or what we call business design thinking as kind of the mindset that you need to get going. So, this includes kind of a new way of working, let's say. It's all about assembling the right team and giving them some education on what this new take on strategy looks like and how you can be strategically innovative. And then applying design-thinking principles. So, to the classic ones like keeping a human-centered focus.So, as I said, innovation starts with the customer, but human-centered focus is also about the team and how you collaborate internally.
The second point would be to think visually and to tell stories. So, all about using visual methods to better structure your ideas, to visualize your ideas, to better communicate your opportunity and your strategy and how you’re going to seize the opportunity.
The third principle is all about working and co-creating collaboratively. So, again, internally looking at larger...Or trying to establish across disciplinary teams. So, don't think too much into silos.
The fourth one is active iterations. So, as I said, it's not a linear process of first analyze, then plan, then implement. It's really an active iteration process of you have an idea, you implement the idea, you see how it works, you learn from your experience, and then you design the next version of your strategy, so to say. And you try it again.
And the fifth principle would be to try to maintain a holistic perspective. So, as I said, creating value is not only for the customer or for your company, but also for your ecosystem, and you might want to look more holistically at your customers, the customer experience, your total offering business model and revenue model instead of only focusing on either, here we have a customer and this is the product we're going to sell them.
Thanks, Marc, for sharing today on your new book.
Thank you. You're welcome.
Thanks for the invitation.
About Dr. Marc Sniukas
Dr. Marc Sniukas
Luxembourg | Management Consulting