What’s Different?

By | October 30, 2009

As a child I remember cartoons which had two slightly different images and your task was to figure out the differences. Sometimes the differences were hard to spot but eventually, I was able to find them all. Of course, it might have taken me days to do so… I always like that game and it got me thinking about how this applies to business. In a world of sameness, what are your differences from your competition?

Some cartoon differences were frustratingly difficult to identify. Do your potential customers have this frustration in determining what makes your business stands out from the pack? Do they struggle in understanding why your business is different and in a manner that is important to them?

Or, is your business more like the cartoon differences which were spotted within seconds? Are your differences easily spotted by customers? How do you make that happen with your business?

What Makes You Different

If you have trouble understanding what makes your business stand out then you need to do some soul searching and identify what separates you from the competition. What do you excel at like no one else and what core value do you provide to your customers?

We all get caught up in the minutia of “work” and allow ourselves to forget what is most important. We get so overwhelmed that we soon forget what really differentiates us. Capability analysis includes a set of techniques that can help you clearly understand “what” is important and is a practice that will help you determine where your effort should be focused.

I won’t go into great detail about the concept at this time but I do want to provide you with links to information that I think will prove to be valuable in understanding these concepts.

First stop should be a book by Ric Merrifield called ReThink. ReThink provides an introduction and overview of these concepts. This book provides the foundation and has great examples of where these techniques have been used.

Another person you should become familiar with is Dennis Stevens who has done a lot of work with Ric Merrifield on these concepts. Dennis has a very active practice and his blog is a great resource of information. In particular, see his post Toward A Next Generation Capability Maturity Model.

Dennis is also working closely with Mike Cottmeyer and they have begun writing a book where you will see these concepts and their continued evolution. See Mike’s post called The Capability Conversation.

I find this approach to be a powerful one and worthy of study and use. In future posts, I’ll provide more details as I learn more about it.

(Image from cartoonstudio.co.uk)

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