in Business Design

Strategic delivery points

Recently I wrote about those times when a company’s strategic plans are almost inseparable from their tactical execution. I know I keep gushing about Neeleman and JetBlue, but I’m constantly impressed with how he integrates strategy and delivery. The DirecTV onboard satellite television is a good example. At the beginning his executive team was against it: it was expensive, and (beyond Air Force One) an unproven technology. But Neeleman saw the connection to his strategy and pursued it. At both the strategic and tactical levels he pushed for lean, progressive use of technology that would not only reduce costs but improve the customer experience. In this case, the medium-haul flights were too brief for movies but a perfect fit for TV. JetBlue developed a close relationship with the manufacturer to get it working right, and later bought them out. They now license it to other airlines, creating a whole new revenue source for the airline.

And as you can imagine, there are as many examples where a company doesn’t create a good fit between strategy and the points of delivery that bring the strategy to life. I summarized my thoughts on my company’s recent experiences in these cases in a new essay, Strategic Delivery Points, also available in printer-friendly PDF format.

  1. JetBlue also deals with the technical limitations of the DirectTV experience quite nicely. In keeping with their overall cooperative “we’re in this together” “we like you” etc. brand message that touches everything the passenger experiences, they use a warning screen (on the wonderful slide show that you see on the seatback screen when not watching TV) that points out that transmission may be interrupted during flight. The message makes some amusing reference to this not being a limitation of DirecTV in homes because of course your house doesn’t fly around the country.

    They set expectations beautifully. And they do so in context of the overall brand relationship, and so we’re willing to accept imperfect performance.

    In contrast to the rolling video, audio dropouts and crappy screens on (say) United, we’re rolling our eyes at that point…oh jeez.

  2. My favorite message is: “Without you, we’d just be flying a bunch of TVs around the country.”

  3. I had a small insight recently, which was spurred on by thinking about 1) how busy we typically are in corporate cultures and 2) how little interaction there is between the hands-on people and the people who set strategy.

    Perhaps what is needed to communicate strategic delivery points back-and-forth are two very simple questions:

    Managers could ask those on the front lines: “What are the three ways we interact with our customers that most influence their perception of us?”

    There should be a corresponding question that hands-on people could ask management, but I haven’t formed it yet.

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