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Competitive AdvantageEven after 30 years, the connections between change management and gaining competitive advantage are not well articulated.  The disconnects between commitments to change and actual competitive behavior are a major factor in change failure. Getting beyond imitators relies on understanding and measuring behaviour that distinguishes competitive behavior from other activities. You may be saying to yourself, this is not new insight. You would be right, but in our survey of over 1000 business leaders in 19 industry sectors the message does not seem to be getting through to most organizations.

The seriousness of these ratings opposite underlines that, many studies show that it costs six times more to get a  new customer than it does to keep an existing one.

Acquiring new customers is costly, and in many cases, the money earned on the first sale doesn’t even cover the acquisition costs.

For example in the table to the right, only 70% of contributors say they measure customer satisfaction effectively. Worst still are the low percentages for the benefits of measuring change related to customers (3%) and their feedback when it comes to change success (12%)Focus on the Customer Survey Results - Stats Table

These findings have uncomfortable resonance with the lack of customer focus we see in other parts of this survey results. Change drives these leaders, while customers and competitive advantage can be afterthoughts.

However there are those who see practical ways to avoid these pitfalls. Contributors comment that managing change for competitive success is a continuous, systemic, repetitive and uncertain process. They recommend five areas to improve competitive advantage through change.

1. Market and Competitive Sensing

  • What do managers do at present to maintain awareness of your competitive environment?
  • How well do managers use this information to make more competitive decisions?
  • What should managers do to improve awareness and agility to the competition?

2. Leading Competitive Change

  • How are you going to build more leadership capability to bring about successful change?
  • What changes should managers make to develop a competitive culture?

3. Building Competitive Human Capital

  • What should managers be doing to link competitive change to day-to-day operations?
  • What performance metrics are needed to track this integration?
  • What performance management measures should you be using?
  • How do you see learning being managed both individually and collectively at present?
  • What should managers be doing to improve both individual and collective learning?

4. Developing Competitive Agility

  • What do managers do to reshape and adjust strategies?
  • What should be done to manage strategic change and the emergence of threats and opportunities?

For more on this and other related areas goto to buy a copy of Focusing Change To Win


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