Recently, one of my Pepperdine University MBA students wrote an international business case study on IKEA. The case highlights the strategic cultural nuances and artifacts missed when IKEA opened their first store in China. According to the case, the Chinese customers used the display furniture for sleeping during the day and picnics in the display kitchens.
Before the store would open in the mornings the customers would line up for hours outside preparing to experience the store like an amusement park instead of purchasing furniture or home accessories. The “customers” treated IKEA as a place to spend the day, a place where to hang out with family and friends. IKEA needed to rethink their business strategy and adapt to a new market with both a quantitative and qualitative cultural understanding.
IKEA was attempting to explore a new strategic stance in a fast-growing consumer market for organizational growth. By expanding in the Chinese market, IKEA was expanding in an attempt to protect and defend global market share. Business strategists, Raymond Miles and Charles Snow, suggest that organizational strategies, both associations and chambers, generally fall into one of four categories: prospector, defender, analyzer, and reactor.
Prospector — An organization that follows a prospector strategy is a highly innovative firm that is constantly seeking out new markets and new opportunities and is oriented toward growth and risk taking.
Defender – Rather than seeking new growth opportunities and innovation, an organization that follows a defender strategy concentrates on protecting its current markets, maintaining stable growth, and serving its current customers.
Analyzer – An organization that follows an analyzer strategy both maintains market share and seeks to be innovative, although usually not as innovative as an organization that uses a prospector strategy.
Reactor – According to Miles and Snow, an organization that follows a reactor strategy has no consistent strategic approach; it drifts with environmental events, reacting to but failing to anticipate or influence those events.
As an association executive do you find yourself in a defender stance with education or select programs? As a chamber executive do you have glimmers of a prospector stance only to be diminished by a long-term board member entrenched as a defender with other programs? These four stances can help guide and distill the focus of an association or chamber with key volunteers and staff leadership. The areas can frame the general culture of the organization or the strategic stances could be used to identify certain operational areas for the chamber or association. Considering these four strategic stances, what is your organization predominant strategy culture?