Resources > Articles

Distinctive Competence or Nothing

Pragmatic Institute Logo and 3 verticals

In Living on the Fault Line, Geoff Moore argues that time is limited and money is abundant. Think about that: we have myriad sources of capital for the company’s ideas but have only a few hours each day to execute these ideas. Developers, executives, managers, salespeople, and others are all in high demand in our industry. Our time is precious. (And money is not.)

Yet too many companies operate as if the reverse is true. We hoard money and squander time.

We have too many projects, attend too many internal meetings, take too many phone calls, and answer too many emails. All of which prevent us from doing something meaningful with our limited time. How many times have you been in a meeting with others in your company and wondered, ‘Why are we here? Why are we not calling customers instead?’ Most meetings are a complete waste of time because they focus on internal situations (or focus on not suffering political loss). I prefer to cancel all meetings that are inwardly focused. I’ve been known to stand up in the middle of a meeting to announce that ‘I don’t need to be here’ and then leave. How often do we let courtesy waste a precious hour that we could use productively elsewhere?

But what meetings should I attend? What projects are important? How do I know which is a waste of time and which is critical to the company?

 

The answer is: What is your distinctive competence?

What is your company’s unique ability to deliver value to a customer? Without knowing our distinctive competence, we are unable to deliver differentiated products to the market. Without distinctive competence, we don’t know if should open a restaurant or a gas station.

Why should the customer buy from you instead of your competitor? Perhaps your competitor is the leader. If so, the customer feels safety in your competitor’s market strength. Perhaps your competitor is a startup; the customer might feel satisfaction to get the latest technology from a new and nimble player.

 

What is your distinctive competence?

Jack Trout said it simply; he titled an entire book Differentiate or Die.

Distinctive Competence tells us what business to pursue and what to outsource. Do you host your own website? Why? There are many reputable web hosting services that run hosting as a business, not a cost center. The content is important but where the contents reside is not. Do you process your own payroll? Why? It’s probably not your distinctive competence. It is the distinctive competence of the payroll processing companies. They have the skills and the experience. You don’t. So you squander precious management attention (time) on something you don’t really care about–on something your customers do not care about.

Answer the question: What is our distinctive competence? It will tell you what business functions to own and which to outsource, which meetings to attend and which to ignore, which products to build and which to buy.

 

Learn more about Distinctive Competence at Pragmatic Institute’s Focus.

Other Resources in this Series

Most Recent

Person working on project management software on a tablet
Article

10 Tools for Product Managers 

The right product tools can make it easier to manage your team, but there are hundreds out there—so how do you choose which one is right for you?
the right sales tools for customer journey stage
Article

Mapping Your Sales Tools to the Customer Journey

My young niece once asked me, “Is a dandelion a flower or a weed?” Honestly, I was stumped. While I’m hardly a horticultural expert, I recognize that the dandelion has some attributes of a flower—including
Category: Sales
31 Tools for Product Managers
Article

31 Tools for Data-Driven Product Marketing Managers 

31 product marketing tools to make collecting relevant data, analyzing it, finding insights and communicating with stakeholders a bit easier.
Why People in Product Quit
Article

Why People in Product Quit their Jobs

Why are people leaving your team? What’s your turnover rate? To understand why people in product are changing jobs, I surveyed 76 people in product management at all levels, ranging from product managers to Chief Product Officers.
A person sketching out wireframes to design user experience
Article

Top 10 Tools to Measure User Experience

This article outlines the progression in user experience measurement sophistication: from general knowledge to influencing user behavior.

OTHER ArticleS

Person working on project management software on a tablet
Article

10 Tools for Product Managers 

The right product tools can make it easier to manage your team, but there are hundreds out there—so how do you choose which one is right for you?
the right sales tools for customer journey stage
Article

Mapping Your Sales Tools to the Customer Journey

My young niece once asked me, “Is a dandelion a flower or a weed?” Honestly, I was stumped. While I’m hardly a horticultural expert, I recognize that the dandelion has some attributes of a flower—including
Category: Sales

Sign up to stay up to date on the latest industry best practices.

Sign up to received invites to upcoming webinars, updates on our recent podcast episodes and the latest on industry best practices.

Training on Your Schedule

Fill out the form today and our sales team will help you schedule your private Pragmatic training today.

Subscribe

Subscribe

Training on Your Schedule

Fill out the form today and our sales team will help you schedule your private Pragmatic training today.