Stratagem Weekly

AI an important part of your strategy

Most competitive strategic playbooks are no match for all that’s evolving at the speed of light. AI is one of those things that’s changing faster than most people understand.

But a January-February 2024 HBR article details how one can “Turn Generative AI from an Existential Threat into a Competitive Advantage.” It’s written by a longtime mentor and friend, Scott Cook (co-founder and chairman of the executive committee at Intuit) with Andrei Hagiu and Julian Wright. I highly recommend the read.

Of course, what they advocate is not necessarily easy. But then, it’s tackling the hard things that gives us a competitive advantage.

Since I research, advise, and train executives on ways to achieve competitive advantage in my company Lindsay Foresight and Stratagem, I deal with emerging marketplace dynamics—many of which are driven by technology. So, allow me to emphasize things that I often say to my clients but never with the gravitas of Scott, Andrei, and Julian in their article:

“CEOs and senior leaders must make sure that AI is treated as a fundamental part of company strategy, not just a technological issue to be relegated to IT… [AI is a strategic consideration that] can and should affect the customer value proposition directly… Leaders should push their organizations to add capabilities in it preemptively to make sure they don’t fall behind.”

Note their emphasis on the word preemptive. The best kind of competitive playbook is a preemptive one. And AI can play a big part in enabling the kind of value proposition that compels people to prefer one brand over another. Yet this role for AI is likely missed because executives are mostly focused on how AI can impact and ease their own jobs. Rather, the focus should be on the way that AI could impact the performance of the “job” for which people hire a company, brand, or product. They want the company, brand, or product to make “superior” the way the company performs the functional, emotional, or social “job” customers need.

The concept of “job to be done” comes from another HBR article Scott authored a few years back with the late Clayton Christensen and Taddy Hall. Titled “Marketing Malpractice: The Cause and the Cure,” it was rich with insights when it first appeared in 2005. Read it now with AI in mind. Don’t think for a moment that the two HBR articles I recommended here are mere theories. You’ll find all that they exemplify in Intuit’s preemptive ecosystem of integrated financial products: TurboTax, QuickBooks, Credit Karma, and Mailchimp. So, take seriously each article’s advice. For continued inspiration, study how Intuit uses AI to do more and more “jobs” for the customers whom the company wants to keep and attract.

For more, visit my website or follow me on LinkedIn.

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