Business strategy is all about competitive advantage. An brilliant strategy is be both unique and sustainable. If it’s not unique, then you’re simply running the same race as your competitors. And if it’s not sustainable, then it will be replicated and no longer be an advantage.
For some companies, technology, innovation and operational excellence are good sources of competitive advantage. Making them sustainable is the bigger challenge.
One of the smartest moves Kodak made had nothing to do with those sources of competitive advantage. They already were low-cost producers of high-quality film; but so was Fuji. Somehow they needed to differentiate their box of film from Fuji’s, in a way that loaded-up value for consumers. What they did was to shift the focus from film to memories by developing marketing messages about “Kodak moments.” It created tremendous value in the mind of consumers — value that lasted until digital cameras changed both the technology and the use of images.
What are you doing to create sustainable value for your customers?
There is a shortage of good talent for many key positions. It may seem counterintuitive, but it is imperative at times like this that you be MORE selective in who you attract and select. Here are a few very practical ideas:
- The biggest mistake in hiring is not in hiring a poor performer (because you’ll weed them out quickly,) but rather in hiring a mediocre performer, because chances are that person will be allowed to continue on producing mediocre results for years. Refine your entire selection process to better identify high-performers.
- Don’t satisfice. Satisficing is hiring the first person you come across who could do the job. Don’t do it.
- Have selection criteria. Use a multi-attribute utility model to assess at least a few candidates based on key selection criteria.
- Your culture is very important. So, don’t let anyone into your company who does not fit the culture.
- Be careful how you word recruitment ads. If you state certain criteria as required, many good people will not respond if they don’t have all the “required” criteria. You’ll miss out on some very good conscientious candidates.
- How many people do you know who are “excellent” at communication? Right — very few. Yet, I continue to see many ads, for positions at all levels, stating that candidates must have excellent communication skills, people skills, teamwork skills, etc.
- Interviews are the most ineffective and least reliable ways of assessing candidates. (Ever wonder why most colleges have done away with campus interviews?) You can improve the reliability and validity of interviews through techniques such as behavior-based interviewing and structured interviews.
© Copyright 2017 Bob Legge
Bob Legge provides organizations with the ability to exceed their most ambitious goals. I work with leaders of Fortune 500 companies, small and mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. Together, we drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org