Strategy has been around for thousands of years – as the art of thinking about how to win in war, politics, and business.

In business, researchers and business leaders have developed many different strategic planning tools to help themselves think about how organizations can compete effectively.

Kenichi Ohmae's 3Cs Model is one of these tools. Dr Ohmae is considered to be one of the top five management gurus in the world. He's written many books on the subject, and he's worked for years as a senior partner with McKinsey & Company, cofounding the strategic management department.

Ohmae presented the 3Cs Model in his landmark book, "The Mind of the Strategist: The Art of Japanese Business", published in 1982. The model is based on integrating the three most critical elements on which, he argues, business strategists need to focus:

  • The Customer – Defining the "rewarders."
  • The Corporation – Defining yourself.
  • The Competitors – Defining the others.

Each of these three Cs is important in itself, but each C also impacts the others. For example, your product might meet customer needs perfectly, but if a competitor launches a similar product that's much cheaper, you'll need to rework your entire strategy.

Collectively, the three Cs can be represented as a triangle, as shown in Figure 1.

Ohmae's Strategic Triangle Diagram

From "The Mind of the Strategist: The Art of Japanese Business" by Kenichi Ohmae. Reproduced with permission from The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

By assessing strategies related to each C, you can look at how best to integrate them into an overall strategic plan. Let's review each of the strategy types, first of all looking at strategies related to customers, and then looking at corporate and competitor strategies.