In sports, high-performing athletes play to their strengths. They exploit a unique talent or ability. In other words, they know where they have an “Advantage”; which by definition is, placement in a favorable or superior position.
Similarly; regardless of the type of business you are in, the business must equally recognize what to exploit and play to their strengths. While it can be argued the reason you are already in a sustained business is precisely because the business already excels at what it does; let us always remember that the competition’s strategies are never dormant.
Who can forget how Blockbuster was king until Netflix disrupted the dvd rental industry; and by now, streaming services are steadily gaining ground against cable and satellite companies at an accelerated pace. The Taxi industry met the likes of Uber and Lyft. Budget-conscious travelers now have Airbnb. Dunkin’ Donuts is testing going only by Dunkin’ to be better recognized as a “Coffee House” alternative, and we can go on and on. The point being, innovation in different approaches and from different angles paves the path to a sustainable business practice for the future.
Are you rationalizing you are well established in your niche industry? Or perhaps you feel your business has positioned itself as the stronger alternative? Not too long ago, the absolute leader in discount retailing was not Walmart, but Kmart. And despite Walmart being the current 900-pound gorilla, the “Who will be the next Walmart?” narrative is out there. Target is going through a complete re-invention in both shopping experience and branding. If you are part of the significant portion of the population enjoying Amazon’s Prime service, then you are tasting a different proposition in shopping experience. And never mind the fact that Amazon is already testing retail stores where customers pick their goods and simply go without any traditional checkout in place.
You see, the question is not merely “what could we do differently?”; but rather, “what should we immediately be doing differently?”. Just like an athlete will work on conditioning to get an extra Advantage; your organization’s culture must promote immediate and clear answers to not only “What’s your Advantage?”, but also “Where is the opportunity for your next one?”.
An Advantage can be defined in many different forms. It can be:
Consistent challenging of the status-quo will drive you to questions like:
Why is it important for this mindset to be engrained in your culture? Because every “aha” moment can begin to scratch the surface to a potential large-scale superior position. Your culture should encourage every employee to always evaluate the task or process at hand, regardless of their scope or reach within the organization. Nurture their inner artist and allow “creative solutions” to surprise you.
The ball is always in your court. What’s your Advantage?