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Geospatial innovation strategy & the resource based view
Tools for looking around corners.
I love thinking and talking about strategic geospatial innovation.
At Sparkgeo, this is all we have ever done: have ideas, present them to interested parties, and build technology. I shared a monster thread on Twitter describing some of the tools which have helped to sculpt my thinking on emerging geospatial capabilities, here it is:
As an extension to this thread. I will be taking a few minutes each week to look at how each of these tools can be put to use and how you can use them to organize your own thinking. First, a few preliminaries:
USING REAL WORDS. I will try to avoid acronyms at all costs. This might mean I use different words from what you are used to for describing concepts. Occasionally, I will refer to something as the acronym if it is commonly used this will ensure you, the reader, know what I am talking about.
THESE ARE NOT MINE. Few of these tools are mine. I have adapted some to meet my own needs, but I certainly stand on the shoulders of numerous strategic, business, and philosophical giants. Wherever possible, I have provided references for proper attribution or further study. If I miss one, ping me and I will update appropriately.
TOOLS ARE JUST TOOLS. These tools are just ways of carving up your business landscape. I made the common mistake of dismissing many of these tools as irrelevant because they weren’t very quantitative. However, that is actually their power. These tools help you tell a story about your business. Once you understand a pathway, you can jump into some deeper analysis, but these tools just help you think through the complexity of a modern technology environment.
BITE-SIZED TOOLS. I will be presenting these tools in bite-sized chunks. I want to stimulate discussion, not write a definitive work. I will try to add nuance where I think it makes sense. But you are not signing up for a book, but instead an email. I want this to be an opportunity to challenge yourself into thinking strategically every week or so. Hopefully, this will be a chance to step out of the everyday tactics of work into something a bit broader.
WHY ME? I bring two decades of geospatial industry experience. One of those decades has been as a freelancer evolving into an entrepreneur. I’ve seen a lot of geospatial either first or second hand. If possible, I will throw in some colour from across my geospatial network.
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The resource-based view
Barney argues that strategic advantage can be determined by looking at the internal capabilities of a firm. This is a reasonable assertion and can remind a big company of its raison d’etre, which is easily lost in a flurry of innovation and re-organization exercises.
By focussing on value, scarcity, imitability and organizational elements of a business, or business unit one is able to quickly dig into what has worked in the past, and what is working now.
This high-level analysis allows for a quick culling of superfluous activities by focusing on core operations. By deeply understanding that core, corporate decision-making can become simplified. For instance, buy vs build decisions are much easier. Indeed, this can also provide a foundation for a renewal strategy.
We’ve always been good at “this,” when did we forget that?
Let’s dig in. Often this tool is referred to as the rather awkward acronym, VRIO:
Valuable: An activity or product must have market value. This is what a company sells or is paid to do. The central question here is do you know what people are buying? What is the job your product or service is being hired to do? We will cover the notion of the “job to be done” in future editions.
Rare: What is uncommon about your product or service? Why is your offering chosen over others? Can other companies figure out how to do what you are doing?
Inimitable: Are you copyable? Do you have some kind of moat, IP, or secret sauce? This could be what makes you different or differentiable? What is it about your firm that would be hard to imitate?
Organization: How does your team organize to deliver this product or service? Plenty of companies build strategies around distribution or delivery mechanisms. It is critical to consider your organization to identify opportunities or patterns. For example, do your customers love you because you are easily accessible? Why and how? What is it about you that is accessible? Can you get new products to market faster than your competitors? What are you doing differently to make that delivery faster?
Thinking through your internal advantages allows you to position your firm, helping to articulate what activities you do well, and maybe even identify trouble spots.
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