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Competitive Advantage

July 25, 2009
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How do you define competitive advantage? Delivering a service or product that is superior? Lower in costs? A service that your competition does not offer?
 
Maybe its constantly improving delivery metrics against Service Level Agreements (SLA’s) with internal and external customers? Maybe it’s that you always under-promise and over-deliver?
 
Not sure yet? Back to my point (thanks!).I was talking with a very solid CIO last week—a real 'A' Player—about an opportunity we're working on. We'd spoken (many times) before so I already knew his credentials, but I wanted to schedule some time the following week to have an in-depth conversation about the role and location, and also to understand where he was as far as evaluating the opportunity.

 

His exercise involves every member of the team or company he works with. He meets with them in a conference room with a whiteboard or flip chart to document the discussion. Guess what? He starts his session by asking the same question!

Since he is is usually speaking to members of the same team, his question might be “what is our competitive advantage?” The first responder might say “we deliver great service”. My friend simply looks at them and retorts “so what”. His argument is that everybody says they deliver great service – so that can’t be a competitive advantage. Then he will ask the same question to every single person in the room and he usually gives (ok always) the same “so what” response to every participant in the exercise - until they finally uncover exactly what makes them unique and different. It’s time well spent and I like this exercise a bunch! Live it, learn it and use it. And… make sure your advantage is much more up to date and relevant than the hotel in this photo (taken in 2009).

Sort of looks like the Bates Motel in the Hitchcock thriller ‘Psycho”. What do you think?

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