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Business Strategy

Defining a path to win in today’s game—and tomorrow’s

If corporate strategy is about determining the optimal allocation of capital across a portfolio of strategic business units, the role of business strategy is to deploy that capital to drive growth, generate value, and create sustainable competitive advantage—in other words, to put it to work in the business, in the most effective way possible.

But determining the right business unit strategy is anything but straightforward, and the approach should be constantly refreshed. A business only prospers if it can satisfy the changing needs of its customers both more fully and more profitably than its competitors. Today, with digital disruption blurring industry boundaries and geopolitics challenging long-held assumptions, those needs are changing faster than ever. Adding to the complexity is the fact that different strategic environments call for different types of business strategies.

BCG helps clients chart winning business strategies by focusing on three critical deliverables.

Rich Insight into the Strategic Environment. How are the priorities and options of leading-edge customers changing? Where are today’s profit pools, and how are they likely to evolve or be disrupted? How well are competitors, whether traditional or emerging, positioned to respond? Which combination of choices on where to play—by customers, markets, and investments—has the greatest potential to create value relative to rivals?

A Candid Assessment of the Business’s Real Competitive Advantages. Is the business unit’s right to win based on such factors as cost, capabilities, intellectual property, unique access to data, and position in an ecosystem? Are key moves required to acquire new assets or capabilities that are essential to future advantage?

A Direct and Agile Connection Between Strategy and Execution. What’s the best way to create alignment around the strategy? To set and communicate goals? To create tight market feedback loops that enable rapid learning and adaptation while also ensuring programmatic rigor in execution?

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Spotlight on Business Growth Strategy

Growth is imperative and possible—but perilous. It drives nearly three-quarters of shareholder returns over a ten-year period, but fewer than half the companies that go for growth create value in the process.

In our study of breakout growers that created value, we found that they did two things right:

  • Defining the right strategy—the vector or direction of travel
  • Putting the right amount of thrust behind the strategy to ensure that it succeeds

Our experience shows that the best growth strategies are built on advantage but stretch the thinking to envision ambitious moves across the core, near adjacencies, and toward new frontiers. And they deliver by concentrating investment on essential capabilities, accelerating M&A to achieve critical mass, funding the journey through productivity enhancement, running growth as a program, and bringing investors along.

Explore Featured Solutions and Resources

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Digital Strategy

In digital transformation, the critical question is, which strategic bets should we make and in what order?

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BCG’s Center for Growth and Innovation Analytics

The center helps clients find tomorrow’s best opportunities by mining vast, unstructured data sets for insight.

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The Strategy Palette

Strategic environments are increasingly diverse. And different environments call for different styles of business strategy.

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BCG Center for Sensing and Mining the Future

The center tracks more than 90 known and emerging megatrends that can provide critical tailwinds to accelerate strategic moves.

Our Business Strategy Consulting Experts

Business Unit Strategy for a Changing World

Leaders spend more time on their strategy philosophy than on how it will be executed throughout the organization and on customer interactions. To create an adaptive business unit strategy, BCG’s Dan Wald reveals three success factors: context, advantage, and execution.


BCG’s Client Work in Business Strategy

BCG began as a business strategy consultant, and throughout the evolution of business strategy, BCG has remained a leader. We have helped:

  • A storied quick-serve restaurant chain achieve 18 successive quarters of peer-beating, same-store growth by rethinking its strategy to focus on two critical demand spaces where the company had a clear right to win.
  • A semiconductor equipment company took an unexpected opportunity to enter an adjacent health care space; the move generated a third of the company’s revenue in the first five years and quadrupled its valuation.

Explore Our Featured Ideas

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Advantage Beyond the Crisis

In order to emerge stronger, companies must ensure that their response to COVID-19 is not just immediate but also transformational.

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Perspectives on Strategy and Value: Your Monthly Newsletter on Corporate Finance and Strategy

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