In our second installment of this series, we discovered how differentiation is a key element of creating a strong, competitive advantage. We also saw how corporate social responsibility (CSR) can be one of those ways to differentiate your operational activities.
For today's examination of CSR into Michael E. Porter's "What is Strategy?" we talk about trade-offs. New opportunities are all around you and the opportunity cost can be too great to say no to. It is necessary that you do ensure you are picking the opportunities that best align with your future vision.
Trade-offs are important in strategy because they help prevent competitors from trying to copy some or all of what your business does. If they did try to copy your business and there were not any trade-offs, all businesses would try to copy each other. With trade-offs they have to take a bigger leap to try and copy you - and they may likely fail because the activity you are doing may not align with their brand as well..
In your CSR activities, it may be easy to set up a quick and easy event that can help any charity - like a monthly campaign where portions of your sales go to a new charity each month. However, if you can focus on a few charities that relate to your organization's strategy, the impact will be bigger for those organizations. You end up trading-off being able to help everyone a little bit for helping a few charities more significantly.
If you own a small or mid-size business, you are probably focused on the important factors that make your business run: cash, materials, people, cash, equipment, cash! Your strategy may be lengthy or broad. Your giving and sustainability practices may be at a "what-we-are-able-to-do" phase. It takes a lot to manage a business.
One of the things that we try to continually prove is how important corporate social responsibility (CSR) is in business and how it NEEDS to be incorporated into your strategy. We have ways that we can help you with this, but we also need to show you why this is vital.
In approaching your business's strategy from an academic angle, we are going to take one of the most referenced articles on business strategy and apply it to CSR. "What is Strategy?" is written by Harvard Business School professor Michael E. Porter. The article is organized into five different parts to define what is and is not strategy, citing several different examples of each.
In this five-part series, we will apply corporate social responsibility (CSR) to one of the top modern business strategy articles, "What is Strategy?" by Michael E. Porter, to determine CSR's role and what needs to be done to make CSR an effective component of your strategy.