SOURCE: The Boston Consulting Group

May 06, 2015 10:20 ET

Can You Learn About Business Strategy From an iPad Game? Give It a Try, Says the Boston Consulting Group

"Your Strategy Needs a Strategy" Teaches You Why Your Approach to Strategy Needs to Change in Different Business Environments; Running a Winning Lemonade Stand in New York City Is Harder Than You Think, According to Game App Tied to New Book

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwired - May 6, 2015) - Creating a winning business strategy is serious business. But The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) suggests you can get better at it by playing a game on your iPad.

"Your Strategy Needs a Strategy," a new game and app developed by BCG, lets strategy enthusiasts of any kind try out different ways to develop their strategy. As they play, they'll experience first-hand the insights from BCG's forthcoming book of the same name. The bottom line: there's no one-size-fits-all approach to strategy. Instead, leaders need to flex their approach to strategy and execution to win in an increasingly diverse and dynamic business environment. The app for the iPad is available for download for $1.99 from the Apple App Store at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/your-strategy-needs-strategy/id951248714?mt=8.

The game puts business leaders in charge of the simplest business there is -- running a lemonade stand. But the simplicity ends there. They have to compete and win in a version of New York City in which each borough represents a radically different set of business conditions -- and demands a very different approach to strategy.

  • In the game's Staten Island they can win by developing their strategy the traditional way, the way most oil companies do -- making a long-term plan based on predictions about the marketplace and then executing it. BCG refers to this as a "classical" strategy.
  • But in virtual Brooklyn, where the competitive landscape is fast-moving, hard to predict and hard to control, they'll have to act like software companies -- creating a strategy "on the fly" by launching a stream of variations, then quickly selecting and scaling up the ones that succeed, and killing the ones that don't. BCG calls a strategy like this one "adaptive."

According to BCG's Martin Reeves, it's never been more important for business leaders to improve their strategy "game." Mr. Reeves is the head of BCG's Bruce Henderson Institute, the creator of the app and a co-author of Your Strategy Needs a Strategy, which will be published in June by Harvard Business Review Press.

"The stakes for business strategy have never been higher," Mr. Reeves says. "One in three public companies won't be around in five years, and corporate lifespans are shorter than ever before. Why? Because the corporate landscape has never been more dynamic and there has never been such a diversity of conditions to cope with. Companies move from leader to laggard up to 10 times more frequently than 30 years ago. And there's a big and ever-widening gap between the most and least stable industries."

Mr. Reeves says that means business leaders should tailor their approach to strategy and execution to the business conditions they face. "Too often, businesses rely too heavily on traditional planning," he says. "They sometimes try to make long-term plans, even in industries where it's impossible to predict conditions five weeks out, let alone five years."

"The app is a way of showing through hands-on experience that sometimes strategy doesn't mean planning at all. For example, if you're in the gaming software industry -- where you have to face a new competitor every week, perhaps one you've never heard of -- strategy might mean running continuous strategic experiments and scaling up the things that work. Under different conditions you might need to work with other businesses to create an ecosystem the way Apple has done with its app developers. Or you might need to envision and then quickly develop a visionary idea and create an entirely new business category, just like Amazon has done."

Players who win the game in all five boroughs of New York City will see:

  • Why the stakes for choosing the right strategy have never been higher.
  • How leading companies identify the kind of environment they're in by asking: Can I predict it? Can I shape it? Can I survive in it? How harsh is it?
  • The five basic kinds of business environments and the strategic approach that's best suited to each one.
  • How the best companies fine-tune their strategies like an artist choosing the right colors, using a "strategy palette" to realize their aspirations.

"Today, it's essential to calibrate your approach to strategy to account for a greater diversity of business environments," says Mr. Reeves. "This is a challenging but also exciting time to be in business, and the good news is that the differential rewards for taking the right approach to strategy are significant. We hope the app brings to life the challenge that strategy represents today, and the kind of thinking it takes to get it right."

For more information or to speak with Martin Reeves, please contact Frank Lentini of Sommerfield Communications, Inc. at +1 (212) 255-8386 or lentini@sommerfield.com.

About Martin Reeves
Martin Reeves is a senior partner in the New York office of The Boston Consulting Group (BCG). He leads The Bruce Henderson Institute.

About The Boston Consulting Group
The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is a global management consulting firm and the world's leading advisor on business strategy. We partner with clients from the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors in all regions to identify their highest-value opportunities, address their most critical challenges, and transform their enterprises. Our customized approach combines deep insight into the dynamics of companies and markets with close collaboration at all levels of the client organization. This ensures that our clients achieve sustainable competitive advantage, build more capable organizations, and secure lasting results. Founded in 1963, BCG is a private company with to 82 offices in 46 countries. For more information, please visit bcg.com.

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