What differentiates you from your competitors? What will separate you in a crowded marketplace? What is your organization’s competitive advantage? I hope these are the type questions you and your leaders are asking. The battle for competitive advantage is never ending… and worth the fight!

Here are some ideas to consider as you think about this critical topic:

Competitive advantage can be illusive. Not every business has competitive advantage. It’s not because they don’t want it; it may because they can’t find one. This is a risky proposition. If you do not have anything that differentiates you from others in your market or industry, you are by definition, a commodity. Nothing wrong with being in the commodity business; you just have to realize that your world will be dominated by trying to be the low-cost provider. The problem with this strategy – margins can be razor thin.

Traditional competitive advantage is fleeting. A successful photographer told me he was looking for a new competitive advantage. After building a successful career as a sports photographer (he shot 12 Olympic games), he lost his competitive advantage with the advent of auto-focus lenses. Prior to that time, his advantage was his ability to manually focus his lens faster than his competitors (other photographers.) With one technological advance, he lost his edge. Sometimes, organizations lose their competitive advantage because competitors copy your success. Regardless of the reason, today’s competitive advantage is rarely sustainable over the long haul.

Sustainable competitive advantage may be closer than you think. If competitive advantage is illusive and fleeting, how can it be close by? Let me see if I can help… After working with thousands of leaders around the world for decades, I am convinced many organizations are starving while sitting on a sandwich! Your sustainable competitive advantage is already on your payroll – it’s your people – or it could be. I believe the future of competitive advantage resides in the hearts and minds of our people.tweet_bird The organizations skilled and disciplined at unleashing the passion, energy and creativity of their people will win!

The problem with this approach: most of the American workforce is not engaged. A far cry from a source of competitive advantage, many employees are disengaged – actually working against the organization and its goals. Those who are not actively disengaged are merely hired hands going through the motions until they can get out of the building at the end of the day.

If this sounds like your organization, it doesn’t have to be like this! My recommendation is to build a high performance organization. When you do, your business, school, church or non-profit organization will never be the same… and neither will you.

I’ll share more about this in the upcoming weeks. Creating a high performance organization is the topic of my upcoming book, Chess Not Checkers. I’m excited about the content and look forward to sharing it with you![GLS_Shield]

Author: Mark Miller

Mark is a business leader, author, communicator, photographer, husband, and father. He spends his time helping leaders grow.