My experience in talking with many owners and executives is that two words tend to get the heads nodding: consistency and sustainability. One can typically find bright spots in a company, meaning people and areas that perform at a high level. And almost every individual, department or company can improve in certain areas. The challenge is, how can we ensure that the areas stay improved?
business has traditionally meant having a strategy and excelling at the
hard skills. Controlling costs. Boosting speed. Effectively managing the supply
chain. Superior number-crunching and analytics. Most of today’s CEOs, CFOs, chief operating officers, boards of
directors, and shareholders speak the language of this hard edge. It’s their
comfort zone: numbers, metrics, analytics, logistics, strategies, and a
well-defined and easy-to-see ROI.
But today’s turbulent marketplace has taken much of the bite out
of the hard edge. Its very appeal, the fact that it can be
measured and quantified, also means it can be analyzed and copied by the
competition. To really get ahead, and stay there, a company must also master its “soft edge”—a powerful
competitive advantage that is made up of five pillars: