When simplicity is not the answer

Yahoo missed the mobile boat, so that is why they aren’t with us today. Or so some believe. On the other hand, they also made quite a few lousy acquisitions and missed a few excellent ones. And today, we all know where their product strategies lead them. It is called history.

There is a belief that product strategies need to be simple. You must be able to formulate it in a sentence or two. But, more importantly, your grandmother must be able to understand it. Therefore we love two by two grids to simplify the world into four boxes. Easy to understand and intuitive.

For some, extreme levels of simplicity in formulating a market strategy may work, but you do stand a chance to become a cockroach, running from one opportunity to the next. Moreover, it results in neglecting those you initially cared about—ignoring the crucial nuances. 

Strategy is complex. You cannot degrade strategy to two dimensions. These simplified models draw the attention away from the detail required to help organizations survive and thrive. If you demand an explanation of why your simple strategy is not working, pay attention to the subtleties in the answers.

Bottom line: Most organizations execute strategies to excite customers incredibly poorly. And, eventually, they become another Yahoo.