Is specialisation the safe basis for a long-term business strategy?

How important is having a specialism?

At Saragossa, we have a strong sense of where and how we want to develop and build our business. The challenge is balancing spotting those opportunities and taking considered risks while remaining true to what we stand for, retaining our integrity and not compromising on delivering the best results for our clients.

It’s a truism to say that every successful business or brand has built a specialism that’s in demand from their clients or customer. It’s enough for short-term success, but is specialisation the safe basis for a long-term business strategy?

Of course, we focus on short-term maximisation of profits and current market trends to a certain extent, but this is supported by our long-term vision that involves diversifying and innovating to ensure future success.

Successful companies are constantly innovating, finding the balance between specialisation and entrepreneurialism. It’s not driven by policies and processes but by organisational culture and a willingness to listen to new voices. Incremental agile changes that are considered, tested, reviewed, and tweaked can hold greater value than significant seismic shifts that pivot you into unknown territories.

Specialisation and identity

“Any organisation that isn’t seeking new approaches is on borrowed time,” warns McKinsey. The post-pandemic world “offers senior executives a unique unfreezing opportunity” if they’re brave enough to take it.

McKinsey makes a compelling case for embracing new opportunities, but chasing every opportunity is an unsustainable strategy for any business. In a post-pandemic world and one facing unprecedented changes in how we live and work, we’re relying on structures inherited from the Victorian age.

“Matrix structures have only grown more complex as business has—to the extent that in some companies they are so cumbersome they hardly function,” says McKinsey.

A hierarchical organisation illustrates a traditional corporate culture with a defined chain of command. When the going is good, an effective command and control structure can be highly effective, but as organisations must innovate, they can become a barrier.

Building a corporate identity and a specialised culture can insulate you from risk, but as McKinsey describes, it can affect your ability to innovate.

Having a flexible culture that supports every individual to feel good about their work, provides security, freedom and adventure and allows a safe space for individuals to test things out, question, fail, succeed,  and collaborate is essential for innovation to happen.

Our recent Gold award from Investors in People recognised our commitment and investment in our people and highlights how our approaches and methods are working and continue to be an integral and vital part of our success without a doubt.

Collective and confident decision making

Clients and customers love specialists, but the offer must improve and add greater value, or they’ll move on. That is why the decision to productise our services has been very successful – we promise to add value and improve productivity for our clients. In our industry, where competition is fierce, the adoption of digital technologies, remote assessment, and interviews has been rapid. Increasingly, we’re working across international borders, connecting great people to great opportunities. Internally, our staff collaborate seamlessly across teams, time zones and territories.

Incremental changes improve our offer and grow our reputation. We’re constantly listening and learning together to create experiences and deliver outcomes that meet and often exceed client expectations.

We encourage contributions from a diverse range of voices from our community to help us innovate so that we continue to evolve, question and challenge. That is how we generate new ideas and keep moving forward.

Researchers identified three key techniques organisations could use to develop better ideas:

  1. Challenge the status quo
  2. Reject “placeholder” ideas, and strive for something better
  3. Celebrate progress toward a final agreement

Risk v reward

As we continue to grow, the biggest challenge we’ve encountered has been maintaining complete confidence in our unique approach.

When our organisation experiences issues or setbacks, it’s natural to question whether we are ‘doing it right.’ It’s easy to look outward at how other ‘successful’ organisations are operating, creating a temptation to try and mimic, on the basis that ‘if it’s working well for them, then perhaps that’s how we ‘should’ be doing it’.

One of the values at the heart of our organisation is to be Fearless; this has proved a valuable compass in our decision making during more difficult times. Having stayed true to our methods and, importantly, our beliefs and values, we will continue to flourish.