Anything that is part of your corporate competitive strategy that isn't about being or creating something UNIQUE is just noise, both to your employees and to your customers. Yes, parts of your business plan need to be operationally driven, but even those portions should be linked up underneath the intention of supporting competitive advantage thrusts. Too many businesses stop planning just shy of conceptualizing a real competitive advantage, because it's too much work; they subsequently lose the opportunity to accomplish something much greater, and to actualize a brighter potential version of themselves.
“The essence of strategy lies in creating tomorrow’s competitive advantages faster than competitors mimic the ones you possess today.” – Hamel & Prahalad
No one pays attention to statements that are generic and could apply to one of a hundred different organizations or industries. Perhaps it's because people know that anything generic will not create a competitive advantage, or because it demonstrates a lack of vision and insight. And yet it's rare that companies build corporate statements that are profoundly memorable and invigorating. The opportunity for you is that this makes it easier for you to stand out in the crowd of your market.
When you describe your vision to someone that doesn't work for you, what is their reaction? Do they shrug, or get excited at the concept? Are you doing something important, or are you existing in the background? Michael Dell didn’t change the computer industry by selling products through the business model everyone else was using. Henry Ford didn’t set out to sell 5% more cars year over year; he set out to democratize the automobile industry.
Clearly positioning yourself outside the pack is often perceived as creating risk to leaders. After all, what if it fails? Maybe it’s safer to just compete on the same building blocks of advantage as everyone else; staying in the ballpark for the value you provide and the price you charge.
But what if you found a way to create value that made consumers pay more attention to you? What if your employees got inspired about how your organization was going to outpace your competitors, and they started outlaying their discretionary effort more freely? What if your competitors had to start finding ways to copy you, instead of the other way around? What if your customers got excited about what you're doing, and then starting telling other people about it?
How would that change things for you?
About the Author
Kirk Leverington is an 18 year veteran of the Saskatchewan credit union system and a long-term corporate strategy manager. Combining a belief in challenging leaders to think strategically with an expert understanding of systematic approaches to implementation, Kirk has played an integral role over the years in supporting organizational change.
As the manager at SaskCentral of National Consulting, Kirk uses his experience to guide the business team in offering enterprise risk management, deposit and lending support, ICAAP, capital planning, strategic and operational planning, audit, and electronic forms to Canadian credit unions.
A version of this blog was first published here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/focusing-tomorrows-competitive-advantage-kirk-j-leverington-mba-cmc#ActionPlanningStage #ManagementConsulting #ChangeManagement