Organizations Need to Value their Difference
When I was young, I had a semi-broken down car that I drove everywhere. Whenever I needed to go somewhere new, I consulted a map and plotted out my trip. This was a more complicated process than just finding the interstate and the appropriate local exit. My car had a cracked brake fluid cylinder and leaked fluid slowly but surely throughout any drive. Because I did not have the money to have the cylinder replaced, I carefully plotted my journeys to minimize stops because braking forced fluid out of the cylinder. To my dismay, driving at high speeds also had a similar impact on the brake cylinder, as the jostling of the car increased the leakage.
Consequently, I plotted a tortuous but low-stop, low-speed route to my destination. I worked around major hills and mountains to avoid having to brake going downhill and to minimize the strain of the engine going uphill. I, of course, carried a brake fluid can with me on every trip. Therefore finding a safe, easy place to pull over also needed to be factored into my travel route. For my car and my budget, this was the best way for me to find the optimal route to my destination.
Maps show you how to reach your destination. A good map will provide you with enough detail to let you develop multiple routes to your destination, so that you can take advantage of your vehicles shortcomings – or its strengths (like working brakes). A good map will have the detail to enable you to plan the fastest way to your destination, or the slower, scenic route, or a combination of both depending on your unique preference. It will provide you with the information needed to craft your own route, capitalize on your own strengths, and work around your weaknesses. It will allow you to leverage your unique capabilities.
What is true for my journey, and its use of maps, is also true for your organization. Your organization has a destination, a strategic target, and niche that it must reach to serve. How your organization gets there is all about leveraging its unique capabilities and traveling its own route to success. Strategic execution is not about who you are compared to competitors, but about how you leverage and evolve your uniqueness. To do this, you must accept your uniqueness and plot a route that best fits your organization.