Wednesday, January 12, 2022

The "Kill the Company" Exercise


Author and consultant Lisa Bodell has created a simple, yet ingenuous, exercise for stimulating change and innovation at companies. Like many people, she noticed how unproductive many strategic planning processes could be. She also observed the barriers that prevented managers from recognizing the need and urgency for change. Therefore, Bodell asks executives to engage in a powerful exercise to reshape their thinking. She directs them to put themselves in the shoes of their firm's primary competitors. Then Bodell poses the question: What could those rivals do to attack and even destroy our company? The exercise exposes a series of key vulnerabilities. Then, managers can rank those threats from most to least substantial. The exercise also enables managers to identify key assumptions and beliefs, perhaps taken-for granted as part of the conventional wisdom, that deserve questioning and challenging. Moreover, Bodell urges managers to ask the all-important question: Why do these vulnerabilities exist? What practices, processes, and choices leave us in a position of weakness vis a vis our primary rivals? Bodell also notes that managers then can turn this exercise around and examine their key competitors in a new light as well. They can pose the question: If we address some of these weaknesses effectively, could we gain the upper hand on some of our rivals? Which shortcoming, if addressed, would provide us a powerful competitive advantage?

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