strategy and business

Niche work if you can get it

Whatever you’re going to do, do it well. Sounds obvious. But deciding precisely what to do — or whether to keep doing it — is often hard for leaders as they look to distinguish their companies, stay competitive, and adapt to changing market forces. Numerous distractions — envy of a rival’s success, the blind pursuit of growth, underestimating the capabilities and investment needed to enter a new market space — cause companies to stray from their competitive sweet spots. Or sometimes organizational entropy sets in, causing even the best-constructed strategies to decay.

But what causes companies to stay true to their calling? What countervailing forces can leaders call on that will keep them where they need to be to stay competitive? Our work in service design and customer experience tells us that the answer can be found in the principles of design thinking.

We ask companies to define themselves in terms of one of nine customer experience archetypes — value propositions described in terms of the experience they create for customers. One of those archetypes is the specialist: the company that chooses to do one thing and do it uniquely

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