Stop The Vanilla Blog

Aligning Mission with Competence


One simple question- What does your company do? – can turn the most innocent of interactions into an uncomfortable moment if you and your employees are not prepared with a good answer. Do you have a specific script committed to memory that you can easily access when asked that question? More important, does your response effectively communicate your competence – your mint chocolate chip ice cream – in a way your listener will retain after the interaction is complete?

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Assessing your Competition


At an early stage, a snapshot of the marketplace should provide sufficient information to determine whether your future competence has the potential to be unique or not. In addition to first-hand knowledge, you can gain some insight into how competitors are differentiating themselves by looking at their websites and sales collateral.

You should be able to answer several questions while completing a competitive competence analysis:

  • Who are your primary competitors in the markets where you compete?
  • What is the perceived competence of each competitor? How are they trying to differentiate from you and others?
  • Based on their competence, to what level does each company differentiate itself on a scale of 1 to 10> (A rating of 1 means they are selling vanilla ice cream, while 10 means they have a clear differentiation. They’re selling their form of mint chocolate chip ice cream.)
  • Are any of these competitors delivering or trying to deliver a competence similar to that of your company?

If yes, can you tangibly prove that you will deliver it better?

If you find out that competence is similar to that of the competition, then you need to go back to the drawing board until you define a competence that you can deliver better than anyone else in the markets where you compete. Gain team consensus about whether you can create a real differentiation for your company after you implement your competence and execute your plan.

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Being thoughtful In Creating Your Own Culture


People often talk about a culture like it is something that just kind of happens on its own. But in fact, the culture you create in your company, your department or your own personal culture are a result of things within your control. Most notably … [Continue reading]

Are Leaders Born or Made?

“Leaders aren't born, they are made.” This quote by Vince Lombardi creates very engaged and passionate discussions with leadership teams of companies of all shapes and sizes. It is typical to find team members who believe leaders are born, others … [Continue reading]

Annual Goals

When creating goals, nothing is simpler or more effective than the tried-and-true SMART approach introduced in 1981 by George Doran, Arthur Miller, and James Cunningham. You may have heard about this goal-setting technique before, but it bears … [Continue reading]

Learn More About Your Market

Since you can’t make strategic decisions in a vacuum, collecting market research and evaluating how it impacts your organization must be one of the early steps you take in identifying potential competence options. Market research helps you identify … [Continue reading]

Your First Plan is Your Most Important Plan!


I call it the light bulb. It’s when the room gets a little brighter because an individual or team just experienced a breakthrough. It’s my favorite part of the planning process: that “aha” moment when the light bulb goes on. I recently experienced … [Continue reading]

5 Reasons to Prove You Are the Best


You see it every day. Organizations stating they provide the best product or service. But few of them ever prove it. In our experience, we estimate that fewer than 7-percent of all companies illustrate the tangible value that their customers receive … [Continue reading]

Planning For the Short Term


I often get asked how these economic times are affecting business planning and company’s perspective towards it. More companies are planning than ever before. However, right now I am seeing a trend toward short-term planning. Developing and … [Continue reading]

The most asked talent question ever – skills or experience?


Whether you are looking for a new career opportunity or a manager hiring a new employee you must answer one of the toughest talent questions there is: What is most important natural skills or experience? It is one of the most common discussions that … [Continue reading]