Recently I conducted a competitive benchmarking exercise for my organization to understand and learn from competition as well as reinforce some of the great positive stuff that we as a company were doing in the marketplace. As usual, the initial expectations of my sponsors were around sales and financial benchmarks but I persuaded them to look beyond; at the ten dimensions and their attributes listed below. My reasoning was that, by looking at sales and financial figures, you only get a view of the past and that is no good for benchmarking the business for future growth. If you want to learn what to do in the future, you need to look at competitive benchmarking differently. This article is about defining the dimensions and their attributes for you to review and to use them, should you ever need to undertake competitive benchmarking, no matter what your business might be.
- Branding: Establishing the Strategic Intent and / or Purposing the Business Enterprise. This should show how aligned and true is the communications emerging from the enterprise to its core purpose; because Strategic Intent is always related to the Mission Statement which establishes the fundamental economic reason for the existence of the business enterprise.
- Competitive Positioning: Establishing the Strategic Vision or the Business Imperatives Response. This should relate to how the stated goals and objectives manifest themselves on the balance sheet of an enterprise. These are the milestones on the path to the enterprise mission.
- Innovation – New Products & Services introduction: Establishing the business outlook towards growth and productivity. This should reflect both, the Mind to Market and the Time to Market capabilities of the organization to ensure that Profitability and Productivity are both validated in the above annual income assuring continuity of growth.
- Capabilities – Industry Vertical, Technology: Establishing the Key Elements of Fulfillment. Here Capability be understood as the Capacity to Change + Ability to execute. Without this essential alignment of Change Management, no innovation will ever be successful in a business enterprise.
- Go To Market – Models, Offerings, Alliances, Partnerships: Establishing the maturity to form relationships in the marketplace. In a connected world, it is increasingly important for an enterprise to mobilize and engage its customer universe that includes Clients, Employees, Shareholders, Stakeholders, Business Partners, Vendors and Society mutually inclusively. It is possible to economically bring about competitive capabilities to deliver innovation successfully to customers.
- Delivery – Customer Loyalty & Satisfaction: Establishing the maturity to sustain and compete under all conditions – good and bad. This should be understood from the perspective of renewable annuity business with customers; where annuity denotes the value contributed to growth projects year after year enabled by all the above 5 dimensions.
- Leadership & Management: Establishing the maturity to take decisions that are strategic, ethical and responsive. Sponsoring Business Transformation responsively and responsibly is the real main job of Leaders and Managers in organizations today enabled by technology, communications and networking. They become the facilitator or blockers of the above 6 dimensions that contribute to the growth of an enterprise, depending on their maturity.
- Organizational Structure: Establishing the maturity to respond to the demands of globalization and governance / compliance to standards and specifications. This is critical to even outline the above dimension of Leadership and Management. The formation of Customer and Market Focus must be uniform across the organization and leaders (those that have the power to initiate and / or sustain Transformation / Change) must be able to come up with ideas and concepts continuously that feeds into the above dimensions for growth. The principles and practices in the organization should allow the flow of thought and information seamlessly across the enterprise motivating a common shared Purpose, Goals and Objectives.
- Talent – Attracting & Retaining: Establishing the ability to build tangible assets in a Knowledge driven business. The art of managing Human Capital or alternately investing in instruments of growth and not just for growth establishes the true meaning of people assets as a true statement more than a fashionable one. The right talent management is what will facilitate the formation of the above organization structure.
- Corporate Social Responsibility: Establishing the maturity to be a responsive member of the society and replenish the society that offers the opportunity to do business. This is to be understood from the perspective of going beyond propaganda and philanthropy into the realm of partnering with society. This in effect should connect with the first dimension (Purpose) where business enterprise creates wealth rather than plundering it off its resources!
The above were rated on a scale of 0 – 5 qualifying each level with an attribute for 0 – Innocence, 1 – Awareness, 2 – Understanding, 3 – Definition, 4 – Competence and 5 – Excellence. I am not at liberty to discuss the exact outcome of findings owing to confidentiality with my organization. However, from a total of 16 comparators, not one of them was on the excellence scale in all the dimensions. The three best performers had one dimension score in excellence (Branding) and 4 scores in competence. There was just one other organization that scored an excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility. None of the organizations could tie CSR with Branding (Having corresponding excellence or even competence scores).
This goes to prove just one thing. Businesses have to gear up to the new realities of renewed expectations and “walk the talk”. It all starts with the right intention carried by the right people with the conviction and commitment to action. Defying this will see more disastrous results of economic downturn in the future. Shareholders should have a right to question organizations on their actions on all the above ten dimensions being tied together from a performance perspective.