Shaping strategies

Redefine the nature of competition

​Threatened by disruption and relentless technological change, many companies fall into reactive strategies: protect existing markets and cut costs. However, through intentional, proactive efforts, some companies can create enduring competitive advantage, and transform a market or industry, by creating new business ecosystems that benefit all participants. Well-executed shaping strategies mobilize masses of participants to learn from and share risk with one another—creating a profitable future for all.​

​​Are you ready to drive broad external change?

All companies are under increasing pressure. The Shaping Strategy approach is designed for those innovative companies with aligned leadership who want to influence the direction of the entire industry. Consider a shaping strategy if you answer yes to most of the following questions:


  1. Is your organization, from the CEO to the executive team, aligned on a vision that could change your industry?
  2. Can you identify and articulate attractive opportunities for a wide range of participants in your vision?
  3. Are you an industry leader or disruptor with the conviction and capability to influence others in the industry?
  4. Can you express a perspective on the long-term direction of the industry and how it might change?
  5. Can you create a platform that would support diverse participants and offer opportunities to create value in many niches?​

Shaping strategies: Executive summary

Adaptation might seem like the winning strategy in an environment of accelerating change—sense and respond quickly and the company will thrive. However, in trying to respond to every sign of turbulence, adapting companies risk spreading themselves too thin and undershooting the upside potential of significant opportunities.

In turbulent times, companies often have far more degrees of freedom to reshape the mindsets, economics, and knowledge flows among a large number of third-party participants in ways that support and amplify the efforts of the shaping company.

What distinguishes a shaping strategy from other strategies? Shaping strategies use positive incentives. By aligning the interests of a broad web of participants, the shaper grows the economic pie and minimizes the perceived risk for participants while maximizing the perceived rewards.

Shaping strategies: Executive summary

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The shaping strategies framework

To succeed, a shaping strategy needs a critical mass of participants. The "Shaper" can attract them through:

  • View: Convincingly articulating the opportunities and benefits of participation
  • Platform: Defining standards and practices that make participation easy, affordable and valuable
  • Acts and Assets: Demonstrating they have the conviction and resources for the view to succeed


Shaping strategies: A pragmatic pathway to restructuring markets and industries

With the right alignment and vision at the executive level, companies could shape entire markets or industries through orchestrating these broader ecosystems with a shaping strategy.

Shaping Strategies work in tandem with Metrics that Matter and Scaling Edges as a set of pragmatic pathways. The right approach depends on what type of change your company is aiming to achieve—whether it be broad versus narrow change or internal versus external change.

Frequently asked questions

What is a shaping strategy? Who can benefit? What are the characteristics of a shaper? How do I know the time is right? What industries are primed for shaping?

Find out the answers to these questions and more.

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