Magazine Article | July 12, 2011

The Competitive Advantage ­— A Winning Combination

Source: Life Science Leader

By Patrick Ropella

Of all the techniques for winning a lead over rivals, the first and last rule is “think customer.” But, it’s about more than just being customer-focused. The key is to get every member of your organization focused on what drives the customer and how your organization can positively impact the customer’s life. It’s about building an internal culture of continuously analyzing and consistently delivering.

Your Culture Is Your Brand
To dominate at the competitive edge, your employees must function within a carefully crafted corporate culture, one that creates an obsession for delivering value to the customer.
So how do you create your carefully crafted culture?

  1. Clearly define your core values, making “customer obsession” a key component of who you are and what you do.
  2. Articulate a compelling corporate mission, a true sense of purpose that tells others the value you bring to the world.
  3. Set grand goals and significant objectives that you will have to stretch to achieve.
  4. Forge mutually beneficial alliances. By becoming involved in industry-related partnerships/networks you are better equipped to gather relevant information about your customers.
  5. Hire for fit. You can teach people new skills, but changing their values is significantly more difficult, if not impossible.
  6. Manage to your values. Never tolerate anything less than 100% commitment.
  7. Support your culture through your compensation plans and reward systems.

Build Innovation Into Your Culture
Innovation is vital in maintaining your competitive edge. To ensure that innovation is always a part of your company’s culture you need to:

  • Initiate constant research to help you understand, anticipate, and meet your customers’ expectations.
  • Encourage creativity in producing your products, in developing your processes, in your communication, in marketing and logistics, and in virtually every other facet of your company’s operations.
  • Generate enthusiasm for innovation by continually seeking input from your employees and rewarding their creative ideas at every level.
  • Publicize the ideas that lead to innovative changes and improvements.
  • Celebrate innovation as a mark of accomplishment.

Leverage Technology
Make IT your culture enabler. Harness the power of your IT function to learn more about your customers, encourage creative discussion, and share your “corporate knowledge.” For example:

CRM (customer relationship management) applications — Find ways to use these applications to uncover substantial sources of customer knowledge.

Intranets – Make your customer knowledge more accessible to more people with less effort.

Extranets – get your customers more involved with your organization on a regular basis to make them an integral part of your decision-making processes.

Patrick Ropella, author of The Right Hire, is president of the Ropella Group, an international search, leadership transformation, and consulting firm. For more information, visit or call (850) 983-4777.