Shaper strategy: Shaping the environment

As a shaper, you do not align yourself with others, but you set the direction. You do not take environmental conditions with their uncertainties for granted, but you influence and shape the environmental conditions with your organization and influence and determine the characteristics of uncertain elements. You are aware that shaper strategies can be highly profitable, especially in uncertain times. Accordingly, as a shaper, you break up existing structures and/or processes through unconventional, possibly risky actions and deliberately increase uncertainty further. You position yourself advantageously in the environment you create. Your protection is your factually created advantage. Formal property rights are not as important to you as your power of ideas and your speed of innovation. For this purpose you carry out relevant acquisitions. As a shaper, you set the rules, you build communities and create demand. You also choose the business partners you want to work with. You invest clearly in the direction you set. You determine technologies and processes and create lock-in effects in the market with quasi-standards and then increase switching costs for your customers and service partners. You influence competitors in a targeted manner by sending clear signals.

As a shaper, you need a strong sense of self-confidence, which can, but does not have to, come from strong market power. You need to be an excellent communicator and “story-teller” to develop and maintain your first-mover advantage.

Examples of shapers include Aldi, Shell, Toyota, Tesla, Porsche and Harley-Davidson, but of course Google, Microsoft, Oracle and Facebook.


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