Rethinking the company's competitive advantage.

Author:Goldsmith, David

Most leaders and their executive teams strive to create organizations where employees want to be fully engaged, dedicated and excited to come to work. A mistake, however, is in thinking that all that's needed is one company-wide competitive advantage that will connect and resonate with every department, division and subsidiary within the firm.

Using a one-size-fits-all approach will not create the kind of buy-in needed to get the total organization working together.

It's been demonstrated that companies that continually clarify and reinvent their competitive advantage will have the greatest potential to capture long-term sustainable financial rewards. The problem is that most CEOs and their executive teams only scratch the surface when attempting to unearth and define the firm's true competitive strengths.

Research conducted by Jaynie L. Smith for the book Creating Competitive Advantage, states that only two CEOs out of 1,000 surveyed could clearly define their company's competitive advantage.

In highly commoditized and competitive industries, it will take extra effort, along with some business soul-searching, to find and define what separates an organization from its competition. To make this process work, leaders must establish a strategy to gain in-depth knowledge--both internally and externally--from customers as well as those in the organization. Rethinking the company-wide competitive advantage might just be the solution to help a business gain a strategic edge over its competitors.

When each segment of a company is allowed and encouraged to conceive its own competitive advantage, it will help outline how every division can contribute to the organization's overall success. This strategy will help generate the kind of company-wide pull that itself can be an advantage.

Competitive Game-Changers

Companies today have three game-changers that will directly affect how their organizations develop competitive advantages and will make the competitive landscape more level. That, in return, will force companies to constantly search for new, innovative advantages.

First, all organizations have access to the same in-depth information. Second, companies of all size have availability to sophisticated technology. Third, because of the Internet, businesses of all sizes can easily tap into global markets.

An organization's competitive advantage might be here today but gone tomorrow. To remain competitive, it must continually examine and when needed reinvent what separates it from its competitors.

The fact is that competition will continue to be more global, more knowledgeable and more intense and disruptive competitors will come from non-traditional places. Companies will be under constant pressure to lower their cost structure, increase margins, make better decisions, embrace change and be capable of spotting trends before they happen.

There will be no roadmap or guidelines to success and the terrain will be filled with unexpected obstacles and challenges that will be beyond a company's control...

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