To Grow.

The strategy, principle of growth.

Too late ?

« Infinite growth in a finite world is absurdity, » rages the indignant ecologist. « The growth of Western economies is necessarily lower than that of emerging ones, so the former should prepare for their retirement by investing in the latter», proclaims the excited expert. « Everything has already been done,» sighs the resigned salaryman.

And what other nonsense is still being repeated by the doomsayers from all sides ?

They don’t even have the appeal of novelty. Two centuries ago, a renowned economist argued that, given the diminishing returns of factors of production, every economy would reach a point where the marginal increase in factors of production would no longer result in a rise in production per capita.”

Early enough.

The world has undoubtedly experienced incredible growth over the last two centuries (over 114,000% growth excluding inflation for the United States between 1820 and 2007, over 5,000% for France and the United Kingdom, dominant economies in 1820).

Faced with the facts, cohorts of economists have amended Ricardo’s theory.

Firstly, diminishing returns would exclusively apply to extensive growth, resulting from the increase in two factors of production: capital and labor. Secondly, a residual factor of production, technological progress, would allow for intensive growth unaffected by diminishing returns.

Firstly, a truism; secondly, an inaccuracy. In our view, this so-called technological progress is nothing but an avatar of the true third factor of production: strategy.

 

What is strategy ?

Complex intellectual process and limited resources

By strategy, we mean any complex intellectual process that allows achieving specific goals with limited resources.

In a situation of relative abundance of resources, strategy is not essential; the Mexican army could take Fort Alamo from the Texans due to its numerical superiority. Conversely, Napoleon owed his triumph in the Battle of the Three Emperors to his strategy (partly consisting of exaggerating his numerical inferiority) and the sun of Austerlitz.

Military precepts generally apply to business.

In a situation of abundance (e.g., the existence of a learning effect or an increase in overall demand), strategy is a luxury that entrepreneurs can do without to grow. The predominance of strategy in increasing growth asserts itself as the conditions of abundance become scarcer.

Thus, only a good strategy allows for growth in an aging economy, in a declining market, with limited resources (labor, capital, time), or facing a predatory leader.

At Outmach, we specialize in offering our clients controlled strategic growth in conditions of scarcity or saturation.

In these contexts of saturation or scarcity, common in today’s capitalism, there is often competition between the antagonistic strategies of several actors. In the short or medium term, growth strategies are necessarily instruments of struggle for dominance in a market.

Kodak, Blackberry and other former glories

Like its military counterpart, growth strategy implies risks of defeat and consequences that can be devastating. The American conglomerate Kodak, omnipotent in the photography sector during the 20th century, went bankrupt in 2012 due to its lack of growth strategy in the digital realm (even though it had developed this technology in-house as early as 1975, well before its main competitors).

Without going back so far, a strategic mistake (failure to capture the touchscreen smartphone market) signaled the end of BlackBerry‘s monopoly.

Aussi, encadrons-nous les conseils stratégiques que nous proposons à nos clients sur des points de finance ou de droit, par trois garde-fous business : la profondeur stratégique, la tactique, la concentration des forces.

 

Strategic Depth

Davutoğlu’s Conjecture

Strategic depth is one of the fundamental concepts of contemporary military and diplomatic strategy, unfolding on a global scale. Strictly speaking, strategic depth corresponds to the distance between a command center and the theater of operations.

This definition introduces two equally important issues: the definition of spheres of influence and the maintenance of a safe distance between these zones and the command center.

The Second Gulf War, for example, responded to a double imperative of strategic depth. Politically, it was necessary to materialize Western supremacy—formerly shaken—over the Middle East. Geostrategically, it was more reasonable to attack a geographically distant hydrocarbon market than to destabilize neighboring regimes (such as Algeria, Libya, Mexico, or Venezuela).

Application to corporate strategy

Our reflection on the strategic depth of our clients’ companies therefore develops on two axes: the definition of objectives and the measurement of risk. We ensure, on the one hand, that the strategies developed align with the company’s development priorities.

We ensure, on the other hand, that the financial, contractual, regulatory, and competitive risks inherent in the deployment of these strategies do not threaten the client’s sustainability and are reasonable in light of the expected outcomes.

The identification and, more importantly, the evaluation of these risks are crucial and condition the strategic decision. For example, the previously mentioned BlackBerry would have exposed itself to the risk of a lawsuit for infringement/confusion/intellectual property violation if it had swapped its keyboards for touch screens.

However, this risk should not have deterred the strategic operation. Conversely, the obvious legal risk of opposition from the Competition Authority to the Alstom-Siemens merger should have dissuaded its launch.

 

Tactics

Tactics are to strategy what battles are to war: a series of operational implementations. Thus, good strategy can be annulled by bad tactics.

For example, Nintendo’s strategy of compensating for a deliberate technical delay (allowing for better margins) through differentiation in the video game industry since the early 2000s was successful in 2006 (with the Wii) and in 2017 (with the Switch) but failed in 2012 (with the Wii U). The two main differences between success and failure lie in timing and strategic deployment.

With the Wii and the Switch, Nintendo was able to identify trends and seize market opportunities (motion gaming and hybrid console, respectively), while the Wii U’s tablet was a bad idea. In addition, for the first two mentioned consoles, Nintendo imposed its concept with excellent marketing tactics, whereas it was disastrous for the Wii U.

Each strategic review we produce is therefore followed by a tactical reflection composed of (i) a deployment schedule for the strategy, (ii) analyses of opportunity and relevance to the market, and (iii) a study of operational deployment.

 

Concentration of Forces

Concentration of forces is a proven military principle for several millennia, since Alexander the Great decided to break through the flank of his opponents with cavalry charges.

The idea, theorized by the Prussian general staff, is to create numerical superiority at a weak point of the adversary, which then acts as a force multiplier and causes disproportionate losses to the opponent.

Two lessons must be drawn from the concentration of forces: the importance of mobilizing sufficient resources to carry out the strategy and the possibility of creating leverage through the mobilization of these resources. Therefore, we attach fundamental importance to the acquisition and mobilization of resources, i.e., the financing of the strategy, and the support of human resources.

As financial advice is at the core of our model, we systematically link financing options to the advice we provide.

A significant part of our activity is also to support our clients in pure financing operations, including fundraising or monetization of legal assets.

In a nutshell:

At Outmatch, we believe that strategy becomes the cornerstone of a company’s growth when it faces scarcity conditions such as a saturated, declining, or fiercely competitive market, as well as limited financial resources, and so on.

We develop original growth and development solutions for our clients based on three principles:

  • Strategic Depth: We ensure that the company’s development strategy does not jeopardize existing commitments or assets.
  • Tactics: We ensure the absence of operational bottlenecks that could render the strategy ineffective.
  • Concentration of Forces: We ensure that our clients have sufficient resources, especially financial ones, to successfully deploy their strategy.

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