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The Hare and the Tortoise: The race is not to speedy (XI). Corporate strategy in the context of time

“… and to make the Tortoise feel very deeply how ridiculous it was for her to try a race with a hare…”

The hare and the tortoise, a fable by Aesop.

Have a beautiful weekend. Today it is the sidereal day in which the Hare, explicitly, and with premeditated intent and treachery, decided about how make the tortoise feel worst than badly. As you can recall from our last episode, the Hare took a monumental advantage in distance to the Tortoise. But not content with the winning edge, additionally, the Hare wished to give the Tortoise a lesson: to punish her by making fun of her in front of all the spectators (the rest of the animals who were the race viewers, including the Fox, who was its judge).  The hare overtly thought of a plan on how to hold up to ridicule the poor Tortoise that was coming slowly, step by step so far behind. If you read the phrase above, the Hare, needed not just to mock or deride the Tortoise, but to tear her down, for daring to confront him through a race.

How many times have you seen this last situation, expressed in business actions; in between quick giants versus Lilliput (in size) or slow in motion competitors… How many times have you seen those colossal enterprises who are competing in the same industry, against the ones who are extremely well behind the last technologies, the ones who are always late in relation to years (assuming that the slowest are the elders, or the poor, or the undeveloped companies), or the ones who use the rudimentary artisan resources? What about when we compare companies that are leading the tech waves, so successful in Silicon Valley, in comparison to those who scarcely are trying to keep their business alive in developing economies where to get a WiFi internet signal is a luxury? Moreover, how many times have you observed how the stronger and quick, accept to race against the weak and slowly, deciding beforehand not just to win, but to scorn the unhurriedly competitor…

Was the Hare corporate strategy to win the race, the correct one?  Were the actions of the Hare lawfully ethical to accept the race against the tortoise? Or was the Hare notion of time too inadequate, based on his speedy natural power?

Our corporate strategy definition for this saga. We will stick our notion of corporate strategy to the classic one that has accompanied Eleonora Escalante Strategy essence. Corporate strategy is the task of the domain selection of our company. And it responds to the question:

What business or businesses should we be in?

Corporate strategy defines the scope of the firm in terms of the industries and markets in which it competes. Corporate strategy, according to our traditional approach, includes the decision making in three levels:

  1. Decisions about the growth positioning and the pace of progress (pace understood as a velocity of growth, which is also related to time). This orientation toward growth implies to resolve what is better to a company, to expand or to grow, to cut back (retrenchment), or to stay on hold and build stability.  In addition, the company has to decide what products and services under the industry should be the priorities, and if not, which type of diversification is the most appropriate. And finally, if the decision is to grow, the company has to decide how to do it: through organic or internal development, through acquisition of other companies, mergers or strategic alliances.
  2. Decisions about how to perform our portfolio analysis. This responds to choices about management of enterprises with multiple businesses grouped under a product portfolio in the industries and/or markets in which it competes.  Usually, an enterprise starts to sell one type of product for different segments of people. Then it grows to various product lines that end up becoming business units or business segments. Once this happen, corporate strategy is fundamentally obliged to respond how much of time and money should be spent on the best products and business units to ensure that they continue to be successful? And then corporate strategy decisions in portfolio analysis answer the question, how much of the company time and resources must be depleted in developing new products or adjacencies’ products?
  3. Decisions about corporate parenting. This responds to choices (of what, where, how) about resources and capabilities that must be used and related from the corporate headquarters (the parent of the business units) to create value in each of its businesses.

All these three type of decisions are inevitably in the domain of the corporate strategy, at each corporate headquarters team, regardless of the company´s size;  if a little consulting house as mine  or a multinational corporation as Walmart or Google or J.P. Morgan; regardless of the industries to which each enterprise belongs; and regardless if it is local, regional or global. 

All these three corporate strategy matters are linked to time. Time not conceived only in a duration of days, months or aggregated years. But time comprehended in the process of discovering what is the meaning of time that we have not yet defined as a current civilization. We have learned in our previous episodes, that not even Einstein, or his successor physicists have yet understood the exact meaning of time. We also have grasped that philosophers of time are still trying to comprehend the purposefulness of time. And if we do not understand the variable time, how can we set up businesses and its respective corporate strategies without considering the variable time?

Too little in Corporate Strategy. By now, we are only sure that the way in which we are developing our corporate strategy decision making, has been hanging around these three areas of domain, but totally limited to “too little” time, sometimes to less than 10 years, or even 50 years. Why? Because as a civilization, we simply don´t care about time. We have assumed that we only live once, and so we have to make money as soon as possible, without taking responsibility for our business endeavors toward next generation. Many of us have become entrepreneurs, just for the sake to be sold to a giant corporation, and the sooner, the merrier. Examples: the case of Instagram or whatsapp and thousands of start ups which have been acquired by the bigger ones. Too little scope for the corporate strategy domain.

Do you agree with this phrase? Are you sure that the fastest is the winner? As it is my case, Eleonora Escalante Strategy doesn`t agree with Klaus in relation to this quote.

Let me ask you? For how long have you thought about the potential duration of your business? Let`s consider that God grants us between 80 to 100 years of life, have you thought about a business that may last 1,000 years after you die? As the ancient civilizations who built their mayan towers, or the egyptian pyramids or the roman aqueducts. For how long do you think that Einstein built his theory? Or are you only considering to build an enterprise to last as long as you will live? What is your business time frame of existence? What if before starting our companies, we consider that we want them to last at least for 5 generations ahead or 100 years? And if that is the case, why are we rushing things all the time? Why are we rushing? Why are we moving with urgent haste?

Concluding for today: for Eleonora Escalante Strategy, the 3 areas of domain that corporate strategy is currently embracing, are too limited. For us, the most important or essential corporate strategy domain at the decision-making level is about how to deal with a long lasting time that help us to thrive in fixing our global outstanding issues, and beyond. A sense of corporate strategy to make this beautiful earth a better and most beautiful one…

And we will have the next 15 episodes to catch it.

Have a beautiful weekend, thank you for reading to me.

Bibliography utilized to get some ideas when writing today.

Disclaimer: Illustrations in Watercolor are painted by Eleonora Escalante. Other types of illustrations or videos (which are not mine) are used for educational purposes ONLY. Nevertheless, the majority of the pictures, images, or videos shown on this blog are not mine. I do not own any of the lovely photos or images posted unless otherwise stated.

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