Monday, July 13, 2015

Understanding Strengths and Weaknesses

     Sequestration caused a lot of turmoil for organizations that supported the Department of Defense including the one I work for.  For years, we had more requests for our support than our congressionally mandated authorization would allow us to accomplish. In 2013, this changed as defense budgets flattened and priority on funding continuing operations made other areas such as research and development and acquisition particularly hard hit leaving us with less requests for support.  As a result, we had more capacity than work and had to examine our strategy to effectively compete in this changing and uncertain environment.  One of the first things we did was to examine what we thought our strengths and weaknesses were in relation to our competitors.  In addition to this, we hired a consulting firm to ask our customers what they thought our strengths and weaknesses were in relation to our competitors.  As suggested in the HBR excerpt on competitor analysis, our own employees had a different view of what our customers valued.  This was a shock across the company and led to an ongoing effort to realign our workforce and the work we do to match what our customers’ value from our company.  The realignment has been successful in that we have targeted work in areas that our customers value our support most and have trimmed work in areas that provide less customer value.  This shift has led us back to the condition where we have more requests for support than we can fulfill and more importantly, our customers now feel they are receiving more value from the work we perform.  This was less about winning more market share, since we are a not for profit corporation, however, it was about maintaining relevance in a fiercely competitive market by understanding and focusing on our relative strengths in relation to our competitors.

              Harvard Business Review, “Competitor Analysis: Understanding Your Opponent”, Marketer’s Toolkit: 10 Strategies You Need to Succeed, 2006.
Ted Anderson, tbanders

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