RH Rosen Blog

You can’t be good at everything

Every few years, it’s worth carrying out a serious examination of your company: Where are you, exactly?

Take a good look

What are your business’s defining strengths? What weaknesses have emerged or become more damaging? Are there technological changes that will reshape your markets or require new approaches to connecting with your customers?

All CEOs make certain assumptions about their businesses that underlie their major decisions. Perhaps you can clarify things by asking yourself: What are you prepared to do in order to create value for customers and earn a profit for yourself?

The fundamentals don’t change very quickly, but it’s still helpful to re-examine your assumptions on a regular basis. “What business are you in?” It sounds like a simple question, but many CEOs are finding it harder to answer than ever before.

If you want to improve your business’s chances of success, it’s always a good time for you to ask these kinds of questions. They sound theoretical, but they’ll force you to think more clearly about your business and where it stands.

Developing a cohesive approach to thinking about your business will provide a framework for your company’s profitable future. It will also enable you to clearly communicate that distinctive approach to your employees and your customers.

Be careful what you aim at

As your business faces continuing changes, you’ve got to rethink where you’re going.

It’s crucial to excel in the ways you’re providing services to customers — finding ways to make them truly satisfied. Now you have to find ways to do it so efficiently that your company can be profitable while remaining competitive.

You’ve got to choose carefully what you’re going to do, so you can focus on becoming really good at it. Michael Porter has written several ground-breaking books. The most important is “Competitive Strategy.” He outlines three rationales for focusing on becoming truly excellent in operational things:

You’ve got to be good at what you choose to do. Your business must have fundamental capabilities that are well-matched to the various kinds of products or services you’re aiming to provide.

Yet all too many companies begin offering new services without thinking carefully about the changes required for their companies to support the new offerings.


You can’t be good at everything

You’ve got to choose carefully what you’re aiming to do so you can focus on becoming really good at it.


No company can successfully coordinate and manage an endless range of unrelated activities. Different skill-sets are required for different types of services or products, and different mind-sets may also be required. Your attention can’t be scattered across too many targets.

That’s why you can’t be halfway into certain parts of your business, because you won’t be good enough at some things. And you can’t win any meaningful victories by being just another me-too competitor.

You’ve got to establish a clear image within your target market segments (and within your own company as well). You’ve got to take special care that your various market sectors understand your company the way you want them to understand it. It’s not enough to rely on people recognizing your name and hoping they reach the right conclusions about your company.

This may require you to clarify your existing identity and reposition yourself in the minds of your target audience. It’s just as crucial — and usually overlooked — to convey a clear image within your company of what you’re aiming to do, especially if you want your salesforce to be committed and effective in selling your new products or services.

And more broadly, you’ve got to ensure that you can deliver on your new promises, by seeing to it that your entire company is aligned to do the kind of business you’re seeking.

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