From public affairs to non-market strategy
CEOs consistently rank reputation and regulatory issues in their top 3 risks. However, these issues are sometimes pushed to public or regulatory affairs teams so that the rest of the organization can continue to focus on the "core business".
Companies often learn the hard way that proactively engaging with government, interest groups and NGOs is as strategic and core business as their positioning in the market. This is why business schools are increasingly offering courses called "Strategy beyond markets" or "Non-market strategy".
It is very enriching to teach in a business school. As soon as you have a few management frameworks and teaching cases that inspire the Executives, MBAs, and Master students, they will return the favor with assignments in which they apply your frameworks to their own cases. The best (non-confidential) assignments become teaching cases, and the cycle continues.
In strategy, you have a lot of well-established management frameworks, and many strategy consultants developed their own versions. This is not yet the case for the management domain of nonmarket strategy, nor for the public affairs consultants. It motivated me to develop my own frameworks.
It is of course never possible to fully capture a complex management decision in one simple framework, but it can be the starting point for a conversation about strategic options.
With my below framework, I start the discussion by arguing that there are three main options.
Companies often see changes in their business environment as threats that they need to push back, and they are very experienced in doing so, like veterans.
I then invite the group to consider some of the changes in their environment as opportunities for competitive advantage that they could capture as reformers of their industry and/or as heroes.
If you want to know more about these strategies, you can read my article in the European Business Review, which you can site as "Meeus, L., 2021. The Issues that Shape Strategy. European Business Review, March/April edition."
My nomarket strategy tool comes in a box with a brainstorm board and a deck of cards. Executives can continue to use the tool after the session in their teams and make their own version.
© 2021-2023 Leonardo Meeus