Competitive Advantage and People

On October 21, 1805, Lord Admiral Nelson’s English fleet defeated the combined fleets of France and Spain at the Battle of Trafalgar.  For decades afterward, the English fleet dominated the seas.  What was Nelson’s competitive advantage?

His ships were not faster, nor were his guns better.  His success had nothing to do with clever maneuvering or better sailing tactics.  In fact, his approach was simply to put his ship right next to the enemy and slug it out by trading broadsides.

The  single most important factor — his competitive advantage — was that his gun crews were so well trained they could get off 2 to 3 times more broadsides than the enemy ships could.  That was an advantage that increased in strength the longer the battle continued.

No matter what your strategy is, whether it’s lower cost or some aspect of differentiation, how well your organization performs as a whole — how well it implements the strategy — is key to your success.

A mediocre strategy excellently implemented will almost always outperform an excellent strategy poorly executed.

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