NOTE: This was originally published as an article post on LinkedIn titled, “On Strategy: Positioning of Resources” by Frank Sowa on 2016/01/07
On Strategy: Positioning of Resources
The most effective military generals throughout history were successful because they knew how to make the most optimal use of the resources they had available to them, in the right manner, and at the right time. It was this understanding of the positioning and proper use of their resources that was perhaps the most essential key to their victories — the absolute core of their successful battlefield strategy.
In national and global military strategy, the means to defend and oppose real and potential threats to national security always is meted based on the strategic positioning of resources, and one of the major roles of the world’s intelligence agencies and analyses arms is to attempt the best ways and new means (not thought of) to achieve a superior positioning of resources and assets so as to always meet the competition (if confrontation sparks up) in a manner that will allow clear advantage.
Positioning of resources must be an ongoing and dynamic approach if you want a strategy to work
This key crux of strategic military planning and pre-battle placements should be the same in all measures of forming strategy — especially in business, and finance. Better control and optimal use and positioning of resources (materials, suppliers, marketing, product/services, employees, patron customers, facilities, contractors, automation and robotic systems) set against those of the rival competition will provide advantage and should affect the success or failure of how things play out. It also needs to be noted that as conditions change, or the “engagement” space changes — so must the decisions on positioning — if ANY strategy is to remain viable. Thus, on strategy — positioning of resources must be an ongoing and dynamic approach, if there is any hope of prolonging the sustainability and the potentials for ongoing success.
New breakthroughs and disruptive innovations in technologies should not change the core crux of why strategy always needs to ‘dynamically’ position its resources properly — thus, the value is met by realigning resources to best meet the changing conditions. And, with the product or financial cycles shortening in the 21st Century, there is a definitive acceleration of change in all facets of strategy creation. Those leaders (even those in start-ups) who recognize this and adapt with a knowledge-based approach that uses innovations in data analytics to make quicker, better, and smarter decisions faster — will provide their organizations with the best windows for success.
It should also be noted that all great generals and strategists going back to Sun Tzu always cautioned that while superior positioning was key to strategy — that a wise leader recognizes that in executing winning strategy, it should never be a foregone conclusion that any organization must do battle with its rivals to win. In fact, Sun Tzu explained that winning without battle (by superior positioning of resources) was a hundredfold better.
Yet, in my over 35 years as a strategy consultant, why have I found in the start-ups, and in the Fortune 100’s I’ve worked and called upon, that so few sustain a business model that creates a dynamic means to position and re-position resources based on analytics? Why is it that most strategy approaches focus on static (dust-collecting) “plans?” Why is it that so many focus on the competition (as it was when they started the process — not as it really is today)? Why is it that strategy and coaching gurus focus so much on execution (which is only at best serving to efficiently hone in the low hanging fruit) and strangle most aspects and ideas that could sustain a desirable success rate? Strategy is NOT a program — and it is NOT a short-term or quarterly returns program. Stop making it one!
Is it any wonder that when it comes to strategy — well over 70% of businesses report they’ve had less than desired results?
This new blog is entitled, “PGH Strategy Consultant” because I intend to use it, to share with you some of the insights I’ve obtained since I started my strategy consulting work, via the founding and operating “The Xavier Group, Ltd.” here in Pittsburgh (PGH) in 1981.
The Xavier Group has existed for 36 years, founded on May 5, 1981 as a strategy consultancy to provide strategic thinking, research, planning, analytics, leadership and management services to for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. Xavier was set up to help organizations map out a course, and form consistent strategies that employ political, economic, social, psychological, and labor forces to achieve maximum support for decisions, policies, and methods — so as to meet the competition under the most advantageous conditions, at all times.
In 1981, the Pittsburgh region was facing major cutbacks and transitions in its primary metals manufacturing and general manufacturing roots. The region had been broadsided by changes in manufacturing in emerging countries and by the global economy. My intent, in founding Xavier, was to come up with an anticipatory science-based means to discover potential threats and then to formulate pragmatic strategies from which the threats could be diminished. What I eventually came up by the mid-90’s, with was something we called ‘Xavier Chronometrics’, an algorithmic-based trending software forecaster that allowed businesses to model various forecasts to see better how they would play out within each organization or place, based on specific internal and foreseeable external patterns. It had around a 79% accuracy rate.
Prior to founding The Xavier Group, I had worked as a senior-management director for a Fortune Service 300, Davy McKee Corp., Engineers and Constructors, (made from the merger of Davy International Ltd. UK’s largest steelmaking process plant manufacturer with Arthur G. McKee & Co. USA’s laregst steel processing, oil processing, and military plant facility manufacturer) where I learned with hands-on training how to perform both strategic analyses and establish/formulate some strategic directions for planning.
For the next 36 years, I honed those skills based on experiences in many different fields, with work from helping individuals with just a seed of an idea, to Fortune 300’s establishing new business unit strategies, to federal/state/local governmental and military agencies, to development in association non-profits and educational institutions. Today as the velocity of change has increased stresses on organizations to deliver better results, faster, and more accurately — The Xavier Group’s mission and creating a great and successful strategy have become more important than ever.
I currently remain the Founder/CEO of The Xavier Group. During the time of its existence, I have acted as its chief strategy consultant. As such I have provided strategy consulting services to over 740 companies of all sizes from start-ups who were coming into existence with a potentially patented idea, to over 40 large Fortune 300 Corporations, have worked with numerous state and federal agencies, the Department of Defense (DARPA), as well as many other institutions. Most of the primary services have been provided in the Eastern United States, but have had business in 39 states, two US territories, and 17 countries. I have also been heavily involved with skunkworks R&D operations and new product/service development ideation.
In recent years, I have become permanently-physically-disabled, and as a result, my personal visits to clients have been greatly reduced, but there is a lot of information I’ve garnered through my experiences and journals; and I’m hoping through this blog, you might come to understand many of the intricacies that help decision makers I’ve worked with in real businesses and organizations make better decisions that can and have lead to successful strategies.
As you read these blogs, if you feel you’d like further strategy consultant assistance, I am personally available, so don’t feel you can’t contact me directly. I can arrange to meet with you in person, and can remain in regular or hourly contact on a Virtual Private Encrypted Network (VPN-Tunnel) via Apple Facetime, or Microsoft Skype; or can stay in touch via email, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. If you feel you need more comprehensive strategy services for your organization, and/or would like assigned expertise to help you on-site with some specific projects, contact me and ask me how you might hire the services of The Xavier Group Ltd.
Why would you turn to me, and/or The Xavier Group Ltd. over all the other “strategists” out there? I hope this blog answers that question for you, because my experiences have led me to look at strategy through an entirely different lens than almost all of the others — who see strategy as really just a tactic (a project), or they have great strengths in market strategy — but really do NOT understand “strategy” itself.
In fact, as you know, there are a lot of people who call themselves “strategists, strategy coaches, and so on.” In the Pittsburgh area we’ve identified 172 organizations that supposedly trade in some form of “strategy.” That 172 does not include all the unlisted independent freelancers, or those who hold such positions in local businesses or non-profit organizations. It is my sincere hope, though, that with this blog, I’ll be able to ignite my blog readers into understanding more of the complex choices that leaders really need to face when they are trying to develop a successful strategy for — business models, marketing, operations, enterprise digitization, human capital, resource and asset positioning and supply, governance, finance, and other domains; and therefore you can end up with a far better outcome.
So … Let me lay this out for you: First, I will tell you what this blog is about. Then, I’ll provide you with some information and some links to learn a little more about me, if you haven’t done business with me in the past 36 years.
First, THE BLOG:
Subject matter of this blog will fall into the following 10 major categories, as all of these need to be used in some form to create a viable and successful strategy:
- Strategy and Business
- Positioning, Strategic Management, and Strategic Plans (Tactics)
- Business Models and Strategy Execution (Tactics)
- Organizational Leadership and Management
- Enterprise Architectures and Deep Data Analytics
- Futures Studies, Forecasts, Predictions
- Anticipatory Design, Engineering, Advanced Sciences, R&D
- Human Resources for Executives, Advanced IT for Executives
- New Products/Services Development and Product/Service Lifecycle Strategies
- Venture Capitalization, Portfolio Management, Financial/Business Development
(If you’ve been thinking about “Strategy” — I’m fairly certain 95% of what you are thinking about falls somewhere in the above list. If NOT, I’d love to have you correct me.)
Second, ABOUT ME:
I have been a successful Serial Entrepreneur, Strategy Consultant, Futurist, and Comprehensive Anticipatory Design Scientist since the late seventies. In 1981, I founded THE XAVIER GROUP Ltd., an international consultancy that provides strategy, leadership, analytics, and technology assistance for organizations including over 40 Fortune 500s, multiple government agencies and educational organizations, and over 700 small businesses, non-profits, and start-ups.
As a professional strategist, futurist, author, and speaker, I’ve been hired by local and national organizations and have done keynote talks for events like TED Talks, etc. I’ve done this to help others devise meaningful, effective strategies, that often focus on technology innovations that’ll impact their operations If they think about this right, they’ll get better results. I’ve also provided ideas and assistance to help them cope best with disruptive advancements, so they don’t get unexpectedly broadsided.
In obtaining some of my personal expertise, I worked for over 10 years with Marvin J. Cetron, Ph.D., America’s most well-known professional futurist and founder of Forecasting International. Dr. Cetron headed up the US Navy and Federal R&D labs and was a member of the White House Science Council from the Kennedy through the Bush Administrations. I assisted Marv for a decade through 9/11 in creating many of his forecast timelines, technology assessments, WMD / terrorist and foreign policy assessments for the White House, the Pentagon, NSA Cyberthreats, Homeland Security, NASA, Professional Pilots, World Future Society, Committee on Foreign Relations, Davos, CNN, Washington Post, Newsmax; and for Industrial, Manufacturing, Retail, Transportation and Financial Technological and Economic Outlooks for business customers.
I also had the opportunity to work on many projects with Theodore J. Gordon, Founder of The Futures Group, co-founder of the Millennium Project with Ray Kurzweil. Ted, a former RAND Corp consultant was also Chief Engineer at McDonnell Douglas’ Saturn S-IV, and Director of their space station, hypersonic vehicles, and deep space vehicle operations. I first met him in coming up with some strategies that dealt with discovering fluid flow variations in the engine nozzle of hypersonic spacecraft.
My comprehensive resume can be found here: Frank X. Sowa Founder/CEO at The Xavier Group, Ltd. — Strategy Consultant; Futurist; Comprehensive Anticipatory Design Scientist
A few of the clients I’ve worked for since 1981: Apple, Microsoft, Google, FedExGround, BayerUSA, Lanxess, Vesuvius, RMI Titanium-(Now part of Alcoa), Alcoa, USX, Tippins Machinery Company, Allegheny Ludlum, ATI Technologies, Jessop Steel, Republic Steel, WESCO, Azko, Generalie Electrique (Belgium), Maglev, GE, GE Aviation, Boeing, Douglas Aircraft, Lockheed Martin, Grumman, LTV Steel, Bethlehem Steel, UPMC, Highmark Allegheny Health System, Cleveland Clinic, Marshall University Health System, Gascard Club, Kenny/King Oil/Gas Company, Pennzoil, Sohio-BP, Exxon-Mobil, Eaton, Reliance Electric, Goodyear, Loral Space Systems, Space Systems International (SSI) and others.
DEFINITIONS OF THE THREE SERVICES I’VE PROVIDED FOR 36 YEARS:
As a strategy consultant I work with top executives to help them make better decisions on their most critical issues and opportunities, convert those decisions into a pragmatic strategy that will drive actions and tactics to achieve the sustained outcomes they desire, and assist them with the execution of those strategies as a part of their business and operational models, so they can achieve making strategy, leadership. analytics, and technologies core to their organizations.
As a professional futurist since 1983, I have used scientific, algorithmic, and social science methods to systematically explore weak-signal patterning to see whether such patterns can evolve into trends that can be analyzed to make forecasts that weigh possibilities about how they can emerge from the present to make the future. A futurist explores all aspects of the future without constraint, starting with an analysis of likely technology developments and then figuring out likely consequences.
COMPREHENSIVE ANTICIPATORY DESIGN SCIENTIST:
As a professional CADS, I’ve attempted to apply my polymath accuracy to invention, development, and empirical research and proof in the areas of pure and applied science/technology all my life. I’ve tried to maintain an approach that follows along in the manner that Buckminster Fuller first defined it in the 1950’s.
Feel free to comment. I’d be happy to discuss these in more detail. You can comment here, so others can chime in, you can send me an email, or contact me on LinkedIn.
My email address are: firstname.lastname@example.org, and email@example.com