Chapter 7
Applications of Graphical
Strategy Tools
In a previous chapter we defined the four parameters of the strategy icon.
We learned how the icon displays the levels of the four parameters, creating
a visual display of the competitive landscape in use with the visual strategy
map (VSM). The icon displays the benefit levels, opportunity levels, cost
position, and barriers to imitation. Later, detailed discussions were provided
to solidify the derivation of the visual strategy map. These topics included
opportunity identification, idea generation, customer value, profit models,
and finally, detailed discussions of the various barriers to imitation.
In this chapter, we will expand on the previously presented visual tools
introduced earlier in this book. In the discussions that follow, the reader will
learn how to customize the visual strategy map according to the principles
of this book. Later, alterations of the visual tools will be illustrated so that
the reader can apply the principles of this book to their favorite business
framework. This will be illustrated by the use of several examples: strengths,
weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis, balanced scorecard
approach, and disruptive innovation model. The reader is encouraged to
review the derivation of the strategy icon and the visual strategy map previ-
ously presented.
The strategy icon was introduced in Chapter 1 and is reproduced in
Figure7.1. This graphic includes four quadrants providing specific informa-
tion communicated by a predefined shading convention. Thus, the four
quadrants and their associated shading display five dimensions of informa-
tion. The grayscale shading convention is reproduced in Figure7.2.
118 ◾  The Innovative Lean Enterprise
Figure 7.1 The strategy icon. (From Anthony Sgroi Jr.)
Strategy Icon (Grayscale Key)
Parameter Symbol
Black Shade
Gray Shade
White Shade
Benefits Lightbulb High-benefit
benefit level
Cost position Money bag Low-cost
Opportunity Partially filled
Barriers to
Padlock High barriers
to imitation
barriers to
Low barriers
to imitation
Figure 7.2 Quadrant shading for the strategy icon (grayscale). (From Anthony Sgroi Jr.)
Applications of Graphical Strategy Tools ◾  119
Modifications of the graphical tools begin with the alteration in the dis-
play of the strategy icon. For example, instead of using a gray shading scale,
a color scale can be substituted. This can bring more life and ease in the
display of the icon. Alternatively, a number scale can also be used to better
display the levels. Using a number scale would also provide increased flex-
ibility for comparing slight differences in levels. For example, if we chose a
range of 1 through 12, we now have several additional data points to better
distinguish the levels instead of the three levels as dictated by the grayscale.
Turning back to the color shading option, we can choose a convention
where green indicates a high benefit level to the customer, yellow indicates
a medium benefit level to the customer, and red indicates a low benefit level
to the customer. For the number scale, we can define any range we prefer.
Therefore, by example, we can choose a range of 1 through 12 to define
our scale. From our color and range definitions, we can tabulate these levels
and also include our previous grayscale convention for comparison. This is
detailed in Figure7.3.
As seen in Figure7.3, green corresponds to black, yellow corresponds to
gray, and red corresponds to white. This is a straightforward comparison.
For the numbering scale, we have defined a subrange within each parameter
comprising four numbers. This allows more room for comparison of certain
specific parameters of the icon. For example, Company A provides certain
high levels of customer benefits that would be best represented as an indus-
try maximum. Thus, Company A receives a value of 12. Company B pro-
vides very high levels of the same benet but not quite as high as Company
A. On a comparative basis, it would not be proper to define the benefit lev-
els of Company B as medium. Thus, a value of 10 can be used to compare
Company B to Company A, allowing for a more accurate comparison.
Strategy Icon Parameters
Any Chosen
Parameter Color Scale
(Black and White)
Numbering Scale
(1 to 12) Ranked
High Green Black 12, 11, 10, 9
Medium Yellow Gray 8, 7, 6, 5
Low Red White 4, 3, 2, 1
Figure 7.3 Quadrants for the strategy icon (color and number scale). (From Anthony
Sgroi Jr.)

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