Sustainable, superior returns accrue to companies that focus on what they do best. The truth is that simple, and yet it’s incredibly hard to internalize. It is the rare company indeed that focuses on “what we do better than anyone” in making every operating decision across every business unit and product line. Rarer still is the company that has aligned its differentiating internal capabilities with the right external market position. We call such companies “coherent.”
We’re not suggesting that companies disregard market signals; all strategy is set within that vital context. We are suggesting, however, that companies start from the opposite direction, figuring out what they’re really good at and then developing those capabilities (three to six at most) until they’re best-in-class and interlocking. From there, strategy becomes a matter of aligning that distinctive capabilities system with the right marketplace opportunities — and the market rewards them with outsize returns. We call this the “coherence premium,” and we’ve measured it.