Competitive advantage has got to be one of the most overused business keywords thrown around on LinkedIn, in strategy meetings, company reports, college lectures, and CVs/resumes What is essential to remember is that competitive advantage is temporary. In order to survive a quickly changing world, it’s simple: EVOLVE OR DIE.
Growing up in 10 different countries gave me a very unique perspective on change. Every few years I had to uproot my entire life and move to a new country, a new culture, a new school, new friends, new language, new weather, new EVERYTHING.
Change was not a choice, change was my reality.
Dealing with this constant change was not easy. Every time we moved, I had to categorize everything I owned into 3 boxes – Keep, Discard & Discuss. Keep and discard are self-explanatory but discuss was the most interesting. Because it was in the conversation that we realized it wasn’t WHAT we owned that made something important, but WHY we owned it. Whenever you are dealing with change personally or professionally, it’s important to consider WHY we are doing something before jumping into WHAT we are doing.
Let me explain. Blockbuster, the infamous story of a company disrupted by technological innovation, lost because they focused on the WHAT. Blockbuster focused on WHAT they did – dvd’s, movies, brick-and-mortar stores. If they had instead focused on WHY they did it – to bring entertainment into the heart of the home – they would have found ways to stay relevant especially when Netflix came around.
Kodak is another famous example of a company that were globally reputed for developing the most advanced cameras and camera film. But they lost out to digital photography not because they didn’t have access to them (ironically they held some of the earliest patents on digital photography) but because they focused on WHAT they were doing (cameras and camera film) rather than WHY they were in the business (to capture life’s most precious moments regardless of device or platform)
In a digital world, it’s easy to fall into the trap of attempting to incorporate everything from Artificial Intelligence to Virtual/Augmented Reality to Blockchain and more. My only recommendation is to lead the discussion with WHY you want to change, rather than what you are changing.