Reliance Fuel Pumps: A Business Model Masterstroke

A typical Reliance fuel pump has only 1.5% market share by number of pumps, but 60% market share by volume of fuel sold. Unbelievable. Right? Let us delve deeper to understand. The market gap Let us take an 80 km radius (a.k.a. Trading area) as our unit of analysis here. This may not be accurate … Read more

How McEnroe Defeated Ivan Lendl 9 Times In A Row

John McEnroe’s and Ivan Lendl were great players of the 1980s. McEnroe was the #1 from 1981-94 and Ivan Lendl was #1 during 1985-87, 1989. In 1982, while McEnroe was on a winning streak with other players, he was facing a very stiff competition from Lendl. McEnroe writes in his autobiography: Lendl cleaned my clock once … Read more

The First Question To Ask Of Any Strategy

Strategy is about making choices. This much is already known. But, what really qualifies as a valid strategic choice? A strategic choice is a valid one if its opposite does not look stupid! Example: Consider a global wealth management business “Where to Play” choice below: To target wealthy individuals who wanted and were willing to … Read more

The Most Successful Decision Of A.G. Lafley’s Career

P&G former CEO A.G. Lafley, attributes the most successful decision of his career to a qualitative judgment: In 1990, as the general manager of laundry products, he had to decide whether to move to compact detergents, which were transforming the market in Japan. The new format would cut P&G’s production, packaging, and transportation costs as … Read more

Reading Books Does Not Make You A Book-Worm

Context When I was a kid, I was told that those who read a lot of books are book-worms. They grow up to become impractical people. I did not get totally influenced by the idea, but it certainly did have some impact on me. And I believe that this myth has wrongly impacted a lot many … Read more

How Alan Mulally Turned Ford Around

When Mulally took over as Ford’s CEO in September 2006, the company was in a very bad shape. Its stock price had fallen sharply, its debt was at “junk” status, and it was about to record its worst loss in its entire history (of $12.7 billion). It was widely expected that Ford would eventually file … Read more

How A Son Destroyed The Business His Father Built

Below is an story told by Manohar Parrikar (current defence minister of India): “I am from the village of Parra in Goa, hence we are called Parrikars. My village is famous for its watermelons. When I was a child, the farmers would organize a watermelon-eating contest at the end of the harvest season in May. … Read more

Xiaomi’s Fall In China

Xiaomi sold over 61 million phones in 2014, beating Samsung and Apple to become the biggest smartphone vendor in China. But, in Q1of 2016, Xiaomi is behind 5 companies: Apple, Samsung, Huawei, Oppo and Vivo. Why? Well, one of the reasons being its distribution model. While Xiaomi was focusing on selling online, its competitors were … Read more

Verticalization May Kill Google’s Golden Goose

Context Amazon is now already ahead of Google in Product searches (38% of shoppers now start with Amazon, 35 % start with Google). In fact, most of the google searches are category or vertical specific. Moreover, the searches all seem to have a hugely profitable vertical associated with them (e.g. hotel reservations, airline reservations, eating out, entertainment, or … Read more

The Threat To Google From Facebook And Amazon

Context Google is great at investing in headline-grabbing “moon shots” like driver-less cars, robots, and Wi-Fi weather balloons, but the majority of its revenue still comes from ads. But is now facing tough challenges on 3 fronts: from Facebook in mobile and social; and from Amazon in product searches. Key Foresight Google’s top-line growth is … Read more

How Google Got Social Networking All Wrong

This article at Inc.com captures an insight about Google that I have been also having in mind for some time now: Google’s biggest problem is its very Googlieness. The place is run by engineers–not by product managers. Engineering-driven organizations can make good technical products (e.g. search), but not social products.   This is the reason that Google+ is  complex to … Read more

Facebook Could Surpass Google in Future

Context Whereas Google is dominant in one single area – search – Facebook is moving successfully in many different directions without compromising its core product. A few early signs of impending Facebook dominance: In just a few years, Facebook’s mobile ad revenue has grown from zero percent of the company’s ad revenue to a 69 … Read more

When ‘Operational Excellence’ Is Your Best Growth Lever

Context An owner of a restaurant (who knew that I was a business consultant) once asked me: What should be my business strategy? I was stumped. I felt in my gut that the concept of Competitive Strategy is not going to be of much help to this guy. But, I was not able to come with … Read more

How General Motors Lost Its Focus–And Its Way

There is no better example of just how important market focus is than the case of General Motors, which has been devastated because of a complete loss of market focus in their corporate portfolio. Managers and teams must make the tough choices of where to compete and to not compete. But, incredibly, in 2009 GM’s … Read more

How DuPont’s Board Failed Ellen Kullman

Boards, by their poor decisions, can often destroy great companies. Examples: Past boards of General Motors, American Express, Gap, Jet Blue, Apple, Hewlett Packard, and Motorola. Du Pont seems to a latest example of this psychological pathology. Its CEO Ellen Kullman had to step down after disagreements with the Boards and an activist Hedge Fund investor Nelson Peltz.  … Read more

How Steve Jobs Was Spot On And Others Wrong

“I give them two years before they’re turning out the lights on a very painful and expensive mistake.” Such were the harsh comments that Steve Jobs received when he decided to go for an Exclusive Distribution strategy for Apple. Such an approach was indeed unthinkable back then. The world was more impressed by Dell’s model of direct … Read more

The 3 Marketing Principles That Always Drove Apple

Mike Markkula was the guy behind Apple’s Marketing philosophy. Steve Jobs was highly influenced by him. He told Walter Isaacson (his biographer) that it was Markkula who said: “You should never start a company with the goal of getting rich. Your goal should be making something you believe in and making a company that will … Read more

A Great Marketing Insight From A Tea Vendor!

Context There is a small tea stall outside my office. This guy’s shop is always crowded. His tea is great! But the tea cup in which he serves his tea is a bit small. That much amount always leaves you a bit unsatisfied. I always used to wonder why did he do that? Once that … Read more

Insights On Network Effects Using A 2 x 2 Matrix

Context A 2 by 2 matrix is a great problem-solving tool (Read this book to know more!). It uses 2 carefully-chosen parameters in order to segment a situation into 4 parts. Often this breaking down yields surprising results. Example: BCG’s Growth-Share matrix. Let us try this tool for analyzing Network Effects. What could be the 2 right parameters … Read more

What We Seem To Be Missing About Uber’s Hyped Network Effects

Context Cab aggregation business has Network Effects. We all know that. But, there is a very important and nuanced difference between the Network Effects in an Online Retail business and the Network Effect in the Cab Aggregation business. And that nuanced difference has significant implications for the future of Cab Aggregation business. Let us see. In both … Read more

Nuances And Implications Of Network Effects For Uber And Ola

Cab aggregation business has Network Effects. We all know that. But, there is a very important and nuanced difference between the Network Effects in an Online Retail business and the Network Effect in the Cab Aggregation business. And that nuanced difference has significant implications for the future of Cab Aggregation business. Let us see. In both businesses … Read more

There Are Still Only 2 Ways To Compete

Context In 1960s, BCG asserted that there was only one way to successfully compete: gain relative market share. This would result in lower costs than the competitors. In 1980s, Michael Porter pointed out that there is another way to compete: differentiation. But, do these 2 ways of competing still hold true today? Does strategy today need to … Read more

What Strategy Can Borrow From Biology

Existence of competition is the reason businesses need Strategy. But, competition exists not just within businesses, it also exists between biological species. What strategies do biological species use to survive the competition? Can the field of Strategy borrow some learnings from the field of biology? Key Insight Just as species survive in their ecological niches, businesses can withstand … Read more

E-commerce in India: Succeeding due to Business Model, Failing Due to Strategy

A Business Model is a higher-order concept than Strategy. It answers 3 basis questions on How to: Create value, Deliver value, and Capture a part of that value. E-commerce has gown phenomenally fast owing to its disruptive Business Model: First Inventory-based and then the Marketplace-based. The online/mobile shopping model has become successful because it did … Read more