Strategy has been looked at by experts in a number of ways. On one hand, it can be looked at as the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ (Whittington, 2002). That is, looking at future aspirations of an organisation then coming up with ways to meet those aspirations. On the other hand, it can be looked at simply as how internal processes interact with external influences (Adcroft and Teckman, 2008).
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Due to the rapidly changing business and organisational environments, several strategies theories on theory have emerged. However, it is important to note that none of the strategies is applicable to all situations. In fact, more often than not, more than one theory is applicable to one situation. Different strategies work best for different organisations.
This paper will discuss “Hustle as a strategy” by Amar Bhide (1986). In this article, Amar Bhide looks at strategy as vigor and hard work. The paper will place the article in its context in the strategy debate. The analysis will also look at the weaknesses and strengths of the article. Based on this analysis, a conclusion or conclusions will be drawn.
Position of article in the strategy debate
Bhide (1986) makes an important claim for the emergent methods of formulating strategy. In this article, the financial services industry is used to demonstrate how superior execution can lead to better profitability. According to the author, superior execution is always needed and always important. Though the article focuses mainly on the financial sector, other industries like the beverage industry and automobile industry are cited as well. Often, strategies need to vary depending on the industry and situations (Chaffee, 1985; Sterman, 2000).
Prescriptive strategies involve planning now for the future. A strict application of these strategies is not possible in some industries owing to their nature. The environments in which they operate are changing rapidly (Eisenhardt and Brown, 1998). Companies must therefore continuously reinvent themselves as they go (Floyd and Wooldridge 2000). The article notes that businesses must continuously acquire new strategies.
The author notes that gaining competitive advantage through barriers and innovation is no longer key strategies in the financial services sector. Bhide argues that, due to the nature of the industry, it is no longer possible to use innovation as a major selling point since competitors imitate the innovation sooner or later. However, the relevance of these strategies cannot be overlooked in any industry (Warren, 2002; Warren, 2007). Some products offered by banks may offer opportunities for innovation.
The article is of the idea that in the financial services sector competition is not very important. The author quotes a Goldman and Sachs manager saying that there is no need to pay attention to the competitors. Bhide is of the idea that superior execution (hustle) is more important in this sector. Porter (1996) argues that tactics and superior execution alone do not confer great advantage in the market.
The author points out potential problems with the strategy. Aggressive execution without proper foresight may put an organisation at great risk. Therefore, systems that measure profitability and risk need to be designed and put in place. Lack of such systems may result in additional cost for the organisation (Whittington, 2001; Rumelt, R. 1991). In emergent systems, managers are there to guide the operations of the company. Only big deals deserve the personal supervision of high level managers.
Assumptions inherent in the article
The article assumes that all organisations can change rapidly alongside the changes in the market. It states that organisations should continuously vary tactics and execution skills in order to optimise returns. Freedman (2001) agrees with this view and they say that the ability of a company to learn is a key element in emergent strategies. Useful tactics and skills usually emerge over the course of time (Mintzberg, 1978). Knowledge, individual skills, and internal performance shape an organisation (Johnson et al, 2005; Fletcher and Harris, 2002). It is apparent that individual skills and ability to adapt can affect the ability of an organisation to adapt to the changes in the market.
Another key assumption is that employees can in a short time adapt their skills to new requirements. The author writes that employees in the finical services sector are potentially versatile (Wernerfelt, 1984). This makes recruitment of staff who can adapt their skills to new situations important. Skills and individual competencies are therefore an asset to the organisation (Prahalad and Hamel, 1990; Mintzberg, 1994).
Strengths and weaknesses of the article
Hustling or superior execution is marketing strategy that finds considerable application in the financial services sector. The article uses key companies in this sector to demonstrate its importance in the sector. In some instances, managers of some institutions openly supported it. This indicates that it is not just an academic strategy. It can be applied to real life situations with variable levels of success. The article places a lot of emphasis on the strategy, yet no organisation uses only one strategy (Durand, Mounoud and Ramanantsoa, 1996). The article does not point out the potential risks and methods to measure the risks. It also emphasises measuring of profitability in order to point out non profitable areas (Quinn, 1980; Rugman and Verbeke, 2002).
Generally, emergent strategies enable an organisation to deal with issues as they emerge. This encourages delegation of responsibilities by management to lower units. This enables employees to influence the course of a company (Eden and Van der Heijden 1993). However, this approach is not always applicable. It may not work well in some organisations and in some situations within an organisation.
The article demonstrates situations in which this approach is applicable. It also points out exceptions to the rule. It logically states the reasons why it should be adopted in the financial services sector. It points out that the era of competitive advantage is long gone. What makes the difference are tact, skill and superior execution. In general, the article is of the view that organisations should constantly find new ways of doing things.
This paper analysed the article ‘hustle as strategy’ by Amar Bhide. It placed it in its context within the strategy debate. It is an emergent method of strategy. This means that an organisation learns from the past and current processes. The article support states that organisations should be emergent in the way they handle marketing. It further states that, in an era when competitive advantage is obsolete, organisations should work towards achieving superior execution. It analysed the assumptions made in the paper. Key assumption made in the article is that individuals and the organisation can adapt easily to the changing environment. Its major strengths include application to the financial sector, encouraging delegation of responsibilities. Its major weaknesses are failure to state possible failures inherent in the strategy, and a narrow context in which it can be applied.
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