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Excellence Can Be A Competitive Advantage

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Excellence Can Be A Competitive Advantage

This post is a full and complete reprint of the original article by D. John Carlson, Strategic Advisor, Perth

I found this article so in line with my own thoughts that I decided that to present my own version could not do as well so I have chosen on this rare occasion to post someone else’s article, in its original form with full credit to its author. I strongly suggest that we all should read it and then question how often we seek excellence from others and ourselves but how often in reality, we settle for mediocrity. In seeking excellence we can sometimes be seen as hard tasks masters or possibly somewhat aloof but do so consistently is what we should all strive for – to be the best we can possibly be of ourselves in all facets of our lives and in what we give to others.

Learning from the greats

I have sat through many a strategic planning session during which managers have crapped on about the strategic competitive advantage of the business – or better still, sustainable competitive advantage.

Unfortunately, in most cases, most of the conversation has been – crap. Few understand the importance or power of a strategic competitive advantage, and fewer still understand the requirements of a sustainable competitive advantage.

Many seem to think that if they promote a competitive advantage hard enough and long enough, whether it is real or not will be immaterial. They are, of course, wrong. A competitive advantage always works better when it is real, tangible, meaningful, apparent, and demonstrated.

The best sustainable competitive advantage is built around a feature or characteristic that is demanded by the primary target market and is rare among competitors addressing that target market. Given the commitment that most businesses seem to have to mediocrity, I would argue that EXCELLENCE is such a feature or characteristic. Mediocrity is all too common in business in Australia today, and few businesses I see appear to have a commitment to being anything else.

Indeed, this is what makes excellence a potentially powerful sustainable competitive advantage.

There are, of course, those in business who suggest that excellence is not an effective competitive advantage because most consumers do not know ‘shit from clay’. It is often argued that, given the importance of price and the level of ignorance regarding quality, consumers do not look hard enough to distinguish the ‘shit from the clay’.

Sadly, I think there is a lot of truth in what these people say. Very often, consumers do not understand excellence and could not identify it when they see it. That is, of course, until they are shown excellence and shown what makes it excellent. Consumers are better at distinguishing shit from clay when they are shown excellence and shown what makes it excellent.

I would argue that it is the fact that so few businesses are committed to excellence, and the potential for demonstrating it by delivering it, that makes it such a powerful competitive advantage. There are also segments of the market that understand and demand excellence.

I would argue that readers of the New York Times understand the difference between shit and clay. They prefer clay.

I would argue that buyers of Bulgari understand the difference between shit and clay and, again, they prefer clay.

I would argue that buyers of Apple products appreciate their commitment to excellence and are becoming more and more attuned to what is, and is not, excellent.

I would argue that the customers of the great architects appreciate their commitment to excellence and have become very much attuned to what is excellent.

I would argue that consumers as a whole are questioning more and more claims of excellence by advertisers as they as they see more examples of it and become increasingly educated about what is shit and what is clay.

In my experience, smarter business people are beginning to appreciate the importance of excellence as a sustainable competitive advantage. Also growing is their appreciation that excellence is not just about quality – a point I will discuss at length in this week’s articles.

In my experience, smarter business people also understand the broader implications of a commitment to excellence in terms of attracting and retaining the best people.

Trust Me

  • Mediocrity is an addiction in business in Australia.
  • Striving for excellence is uncommon in business in Australia.
  • Excellence is a potential strategic competitive advantage.



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Creating and managing your online business requires you to follow the same basic principals of any business - relying on sound Business Strategies however there are a few practices that differ or that just are unique to an online business. Here we share our views and experience with you to help you develop a more effective and profitable online business.

This post is original content presented by Top Left Designs, a web design and digital marketing agency based in Southport on the Gold Coast and servicing clients in the Gold Coast and Brisbane regional area. Top Left Designs sets out to remove the frustration and confusion faced by business owners seeking to maximise the return on the website investment by providing a comprehensive web solution to their business needs.