Strategic Triangle / 3C model by Kenichi Ohmae

Strategic Triangle - Toolshero

Strategic Triangle: this article explains the Strategic Triangle by Kenichi Ohmae in a practical way. Next to what it is, this article also highlights the three components and what is Hito Kane Mono. After reading you will understand the basics of this strategy and competitive advantage tool. Enjoy reading!

What is the strategic triangle (3cs)?

The Strategic Triangle, also know as the 3C’s, developed by renowned Japanese strategy guru Kenichi Ohmae, is a business model which focuses on three key success factors for success. Kenichi Ohmae states that these three factors must be in balance in the form of a strategic triangle. These three key factors for success are:

  1. The Corporation
  2. The Customer
  3. The Competition

This balance within the Strategic Triangle can lead to a sustainable competitive advantage.

Free Toolshero ebook

For companies, it’s important to monitor the changes in their market segment. The cause could be a change in demographics, distribution channels, technology, customer size, etc; influencing the market segment as a whole.

Such changes require a shift of, for instance, company resources. In order to gain insight and possibly adjust the strategy, the Strategic Triangle / 3C model can help.

What are the three components of the strategic triangle?

The three components of the strategic triangle are corporation, customer and competition. These components need to in balance and can lead to a competitive advantage. Below, you will find a brief explanation of these three components of the Strategic Triangle.

Strategic triangle - ToolsHero

Figure 1 – the three components of the Strategic triangle

1. The corporation

The Corporation needs to focus on the maximization of its strengths. As a result, the corporation can influence the functional areas of the competition that are critical to achieve success within a certain industry. Focusing on a key functional area may create a decisive improvement in other functions of the competition. (for example quality improvement). By functional areas is meant for example culture, image, products, services, technology, etc.

It is also important for a corporation to make informed decisions about subcontracting (capacity, cost structure, significant strategic advantages) and how effectively this can be realized with respect to cost reduction (selective purchasing, stock management, choice of commodities, use of automation).

It’s certainly not necessary for a company to excel in one specific function. If there’s a clear advantage in one important function, the company can then also reinforce and improve other functions from that strength.

If labour costs are rising, it can be an attractive option for companies to outsource part of the work. They then do need to consider the competition; if their production is outsourced to subcontractors, it can influence the cost price. To counter this, a company can improve the cost effectiveness.

Firstly, by trying to lower the basic costs compared to their competitors. And secondly, by lowering the functional costs, including those for transport.

A third option would be to combine certain key functions with other businesses, sharing overhead costs. Examples could be transport, warehousing or call centres.

2. The customer

The customers are the basis for any corporation according to Kenichi Ohmae. Without a doubt, a corporation’s foremost objective ought to be the interests of its customers rather than those of its stock holders or other parties. What is important are elements like needs, requirements, demands, problem areas, buying motives, value components, decision-makers, etcetera.

Segmentation of objectives (use of products) and customers (geography, age, social interests ) and the market (potential customers, competitors) are important for constructing and adopting a strategy.

Using (digital) questionnaires, reviews and platforms, a company can find out what customers are thinking and seriously include this information in strategic decisions.

3. The competition

According to Kenichi Ohmae these strategies can be constructed by looking at possible differentiation in functions such as purchasing, design, engineering, operational capacity, sales and maintenance.

One of the most important factors is image and this can provide the necessary power. Both Sony and Honda for example, sell more than their competitors because they invest more in public relations and advertising.

Smaller corporations and organizations can use franchise concepts or low margins and make the necessary investments in service.

Something that’s sometimes overlooked, is using the difference in profit source. Where does the company get most of its profits? With selling existing products, selling new products, selling services, etc.

Related to this is the difference in the ratio between fixed and variable costs, which can be particularly important to low-turnover companies. Fixed costs can for instance lower prices in a slow market and help gain market share.

Strategic Triangle: what is Hito Kane Mono?

The Japanese business world is all about ‘hito-kane-mono’, which stands for people, money and resources.

In the Netherlands, the standard trinity ‘nature, labour, capital’ can be compared to the Japanese concept. Streamlined company management is only possible if there’s a balance between these three factors, and if there’s no waste.

This also plays a role in the 3C model; capable people within the organisation must take responsibility and involve their colleagues in decision making.

They’re expected to use all available means responsibly and not waste any money. The resources can be translated as machines and equipment (operational capacity), but also technology and process knowledge.

Even the use of raw materials and using them economically fall under this category. When the people (hito), have developed creative and feasible ideas, the company will be able to earn more money (kane).

This does require them to properly use and apply the resources (mono). That enables a company to attract new customers and keep the competition at bay.

Join the Toolshero community

It’s Your Turn

What do you think? Is the Strategic Triangle / 3C model, developed by Kenichi Ohmae applicable in today’s modern economy and strategy thinking? Do you recognize the practical explanation or do you have additions? What are your success factors for a good 3C model set up?

Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.

More information

  1. Adetule, P. J. (2011). The Handbook on Management Theories. Author House.
  2. Ohmae K. (2005). The Next Global Stage. Pearson Education.
  3. Ward, D. (2005). An overview of strategy development models and the Ward-Rivani model. Economics Working Papers, June, 1-24.

How to cite this article:
Van Vliet, V. (2009). Strategic Triangle (Ohmae). Retrieved [insert date] from Toolshero:

Original publication date: 05/08/2009 | Last update: 07/04/2024

Add a link to this page on your website:
<a href=””>Toolshero: Strategic Triangle (Ohmae)</a>

Did you find this article interesting?

Your rating is more than welcome or share this article via Social media!

Average rating 4.2 / 5. Vote count: 5

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

Vincent van Vliet
Article by:

Vincent van Vliet

Vincent van Vliet is co-founder and responsible for the content and release management. Together with the team Vincent sets the strategy and manages the content planning, go-to-market, customer experience and corporate development aspects of the company.


2 responses to “Strategic Triangle / 3C model by Kenichi Ohmae”

  1. Roma Carmona says:

    I used to be able to find good info from your content.

Leave a Reply