Strategic thinking in business has been through stages which emphasize different things. Early debates championed growth in new territories (taking the same products from local to national to global) or new market segments, or expanding the product range in existing markets. Later on, increasing value through vertical integration or diversification into new businesses became hot topics.
In the 1980s Michael Porter identified three generic strategies: cost leadership (value through low cost), differentiation (seeking uniqueness in some key aspects of the business) and focus (dominating a narrow niche market). Strong differentiation and low cost pursued together resembles the “Blue Ocean Strategy” proposed by Kim and Mauborgne twenty years after Porter.
In the 1990s Hammer and Champy championed business process re-engineering and there was a widespread proliferation of attempts to extract value from a new generation of information technology.
But what has really changed in strategic business thinking? And what hasn’t?