Business is competitive. Stay ahead of the curve by becoming a better student and teacher. But before you can start learning or teaching, you need to decide which topics you want to study. This decision has tremendous strategic impact on both you and your organization. It will determine your core capabilities; which in turn will shape how your organization faces challenges.
These are some questions you should ask yourself as you think about which topics you want to focus on:
- What capabilities do my competitors have?
- What areas do I want to beat them in?
- How do I develop our capabilities?
- How do I build a sustainable advantage?
By becoming a better teacher, you can facilitate growth. But remember, before you can become a better teacher, you need to decide what you are going to teach (and learn).
I have found that a quick way to define capabilities quickly is to follow this process.
1. Brainstorm – jot down as many capabilities as you can think of. I like to use a mindmap style of brainstorming so that I can relate the ideas via branches and lines. Remember: the key to a brainstorm session is that you put your mental sensor on hold. All “bad” ideas should be written down.
2. Organize – now, you may have a complete mess of a list. If you’ve mindmapped it, you may be partially along this path already — which capabilities are related to each other? Can you form them into a hierarchy?
3. Consolidate your list. Is there overlap? Can you roll some up into a group? For example, if you have “sorting papers, filing, stapling, collating” you may be able to roll them up into “paperwork organization”. At this point, do not toss your old lists out, because you’re going to need to break down each capability down the road.
4. Prioritize your list. Which capabilities are the most important? I have two quick ways to do this: you could list relative benefits of each capability, create a weighting scale, etc… or, the easier, HAVE/HAVE-NOT comparison: You ask yourself (or others in your strategic steering committee) what would the impact be of being the best in this capability? What would the impact be of being average in that capability? Select from three possible answers for each question: Huge Impact; Maybe?; No impact. Compare both columns.
5. Select your top 3 strategic capabilities, and write a statement that can be used to communicate to your investors and employees the importance of focusing on those. For example, “By leading in market research, copywriting, and conversion optimization, Adam Enterprises workforce will provide competitive advantage to our clients.” Why 3 things? Well, you can chunk them up and down, but it is hard to focus on more than 1 thing at a time (3 is my limit).
Did this exercise help you? What did you think of this article? Leave a comment and let me know.