Who’s in Your Final Four?
Strategy Gaming Lessons from the NCAA Basketball Championship

By Edward Hardy Payne

Forbes writer, Bryan Pearson, shared his thoughts in yesterday’s article “Final Four of Mass Retail: The Battle of Walmart, Kroger, Amazon and Target.” (Link to Forbes article.) It got us thinking, strategy professionals and market researchers should consider the lessons from this article, and ask themselves, “Who’s in our Final Four?”

Obviously, Amazon, Walmart, Kroger, and Target have many more competitors than one another. Likewise, you have many competitors. When developing a benchmarking game plan, we recommend limiting competitors to a manageable four. More than four can make the exercise too complex and ineffective. As there is never a perfect NCAA bracket, picking your Final Four can be a n endless exercise. Pick four.

The three games this weekend will be determined by who scores more points. For your Final Four, you need to pick ways to score (or in our example, how to compare). In the article, Mr. Pearson suggested criteria to measure these competitors. We suggest keeping score by measuring key metrics such as sales, EBITA, margins, etc. These will serve as a focal point when working to im- prove competitive performance. Here too we suggest keeping it simple, pick four.

As the article points out, team strategy and execution determine who scores the most. Be honest about your team’s ability to exe- cute, remember no 16 seeds have ever made it to the Final Four. This weekend, the “2019 NCAA Final Four” will come to an end, and we will have a National Champion. But, for the rest of us, our tournaments will continue well into the future. Therefore, you need to ask: “Who are our Final Four?


About Valeo Strategy Group

“Valeo” comes from the Latin “to Win.” At Valeo, our mission is to help our clients outmaneuver and outperform their competitors. For over a decade, many of the Global 2000 have turned to Valeo for critical insights that drive breakthrough strategies and increased market share.  Top-level executives utilize our resources to gather difficult-to-obtain insights about their competitors, potential customers, channel partners and global markets needed to fortify their decision-making. We help to guide successful revenue growth.

About the Author

Edward Payne, Managing Partner & Chief Research Officer, Valeo Strategy Group

Mr. Payne is a Competitive and Market Intelligence expert with more than 20 years of experience. His global background and deep industry experience bring a depth of research and analysis to Valeo’s engagements. He is skilled in human intelligence collection, research design, and analysis. Mr. Payne specializes in primary sourcing, exhibit/event collection, strategic positioning, and sales strategy. Mr. Payne is a published author and sought after industry thought leader. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Denison University.

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