Chief Strategy Officer, Issue 21

Where we look at Adidas' use of music in branding


Welcome to the 21st Edition of the Chief Strategy Officer Magazine

A successful business is one that builds an efficient internal strategy by objectively assessing its weaknesses and strengths, but it also keeps an eye on external factors that may affect business performance. The ability to distinguish threats is particularly important, although it is not so easy to develop.

Occasionally checking on what competitors are doing is useful, although companies shouldn’t see every competitor as a threat and they shouldn’t assume that every new entry in the market is a disruption. Even though a competitor may appear intimidating by launching a similar product or service, it’s critical not to act rashly when making a decision on how to respond.

It’s also important to consider what constitutes real disruption. The term was first introduced by Harvard Business School professor Clayton M. Christensen, who defined it as an innovation that allows upstarts to build a completely new market by offering simpler, cheaper products or services, at a lower price than the incumbent,thus becoming more appealing to a customer and replacing them.

Once you properly understand the threat, a company may respond in one of three ways. It may start thinking about pivoting its strategy, it may try adapting the same methods and principles as a competitor, or it may assume that it is better to double the effort on the existing products or services. If any of those scenarios appear after a new entry in the market, it indicates that a company identified it as a potential disruption.

It is necessary to appreciate that not all ‘threats’ are the same. Often, when companies start thinking about their response to a competitor, they may make a decision that will harm a business, simply because a ‘disruptor’ was wrongly identified. Instead of allowing the fear of disruption to take over, it’s worth taking a step back, measure the risks, re-analyze the company’s position on the market, and only then, come up with new approaches and an alternative strategy.

As always, if you have any comments or would like to submit an article, please don’t hesitate to contact me at

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