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Ask the World to Compete to Find Breakthrough Methods

Feb 27, 2008
Competitive advantage is based not on doing what others already do well, but on doing what others cannot do as well. --John Kay

What organization can afford to stand still? Most would agree that focused improvement is critical to staying competitive or gaining new advantages. If you are trying to accomplish something well beyond the future best practice, you'll need to be cautious in your spending, as well. Going to the next level of performance can be extraordinarily expensive. But find ways to innovate at below normal costs, and exciting panoramas of opportunity open up.

For a vehicle owner, one such option is to buy a lifetime warranty on parts and labor. In that way, should any of the parts fail you have no additional expense. That's a good deal for those who keep their vehicles on the road for a long time. Parts soar in price the older your vehicle is. You're also covered if the vehicle maker has designed a part that keeps failing.

Why should you want to keep the same vehicle? The biggest expense you have is driving a new vehicle off the dealer's lot and turning it into a used machine. The decline in value can be over ten thousand dollars.

Keep that vehicle on the road for many years, however, and that cost becomes a modest annual depreciation expense. At the same time, you also avoid incurring the additional depreciation expenses of taking another new vehicle and turning it into a used one.

Savvy buyers also know that you can buy used vehicles in the first place and avoid most of that depreciation. If you buy your vehicle from the dealer where it received regular service, you can also be reasonably sure that there have been no accidents and few problems. That dealer will also inspect the used vehicle and sell you a warranty on it for parts and labor.

A key advantage of buying a warranty is that you never face an unaffordable vehicle repair bill. Should many parts fail at the same time, especially if they include key parts of the engine and transmission, the cost can be in the thousands of dollars.

Yet you can drive off most used vehicle sales lots by paying only a few hundred dollars down. To conserve cash flow, many vehicle owners will opt for the lower near-term cash flow option of not buying a warranty . . . even if it is much more expensive in the long run.

Without a warranty, many people will scramble to pay the repair bills to keep their vehicles running. That outlay will mean some major belt tightening in other aspects of what they do. Vacation may be day trips to the beach rather than a winter jaunt to Florida. Bag lunches will be replacing salads from the local deli.

How do these lessons apply to your organization? Chances are that your organization has exploited most ways of creating new advantages that you already know how to do. Running up against such a limit in capabilities, many organizations choose to scale down their improvement standards.

When that happens, it's as though the organization has developed a permanent disability that will hinder future progress. That artificial limitation will remain until higher improvement standards return.

See the opportunity differently! Consider how few of the world's best thinkers and doers have worked on creating your breakthrough competitive advantages.

From that perspective, the surface opportunities have barely been explored while the deeper potential advantages remain hidden. When you involve more of the world's best people, it's as though you had a lifetime warranty for making organizational improvements.
About the Author
Donald Mitchell is an author of seven books including Adventures of an Optimist, The 2,000 Percent Squared Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution Workbook, The Irresistible Growth Enterprise, and The Ultimate Competitive Advantage. Read about creating breakthroughs through 2,000 percent solutions and receive tips by e-mail by registering for free at

http://www.2000percentsolution.com .
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