Lancefield on the Line

Felix Oberholzer-Gee: Simplifying strategy for the better

March 30, 2022 David Lancefield Season 2 Episode 12
Lancefield on the Line
Felix Oberholzer-Gee: Simplifying strategy for the better
Show Notes Chapter Markers


Strategy is a mystery to many of us. It’s an over-used, misunderstood term in business. Put simply, a strategy is a plan to create value. Don’t start with profit though. That’s the result of strategy. Instead, use a "value stick" which provides a way of measuring the two fundamental forces that lead to value creation and increased financial success: (1) the customer's willingness-to-pay (the top of the stick); and (2) the employee's willingness-to-sell their services to the business (the bottom of the stick).

Companies that "win", according to Felix Oberholzer-Gee, create value for customers by raising their willingness-to-pay, and they provide value for talent by lowering their willingness-to-sell. He describes how to do this in this fascinating discussion, talking about the distinction between the creation and capture of value, the potential of “near-customers”, strategy in ecosystems, the power of value-maps, and the relationship between strategy
and culture.

More about Felix:

Felix Oberholzer-Gee is the Andreas Andresen Professor of Business Administration in the Strategy Unit at Harvard Business School. He currently teaches competitive strategy in executive education programs such as the Program for Leadership Development, the Senior Executive Program for China, and in a program for media executives titled Effective Strategies for Media Companies. He hosts a HBR After House podcast, in which he discusses and debates current events that sit at the crossroads of business and culture with fellow HBS professors Youngme Moon and Mihir A. Desai. Here are some more of his resources:

  • Research
  • Book ‘Better, Simpler Strategy’ 
  • HBR article ‘How to eliminate strategic overload’
  • What is strategy video.

My resources:

Sign up to my Flashes+Sparks for stimuli, ideas, guidance and tips on how to lead your team, organisation or self more effectively, delivered straight to your inbox:

If you're not subscribed already and do subscribe to my youtube channel where you can watch the conversation.
You can also find me here:

Definition of strategy
Why strategy is a confusing term
The importance of differentiation
Are we over-emphasising business models?
Customer delight
The relationship between strategy and culture
Near customers
Value maps
Strategy process that works
Applying his own framework