Does Your Company Suffer From Tunnel Vision?

Last Updated Oct 3, 2007 2:09 PM EDT

Does Your Company Suffer From Tunnel Vision?Experiment: ask your team members why your customers should choose your company over the competition? Would their answers be clear and consistent, or would they scramble to come up with some response to make you go away and leave them in peace.

Posting this week to the Harvard Business Review's Discussion Leaders Bill Taylor asks a simple but powerful question:

How can any business expect to outperform the competition when its own employees can't explain--simply and convincingly-- what makes them different from the competition?
While managers typically gripe about the Internet's negative effect on profit margins, mergers in their industry creating behemoths, or finicky, fickle consumers, often times the real trouble is that these same managers have no sense of what makes their company unique. Taylor concurs with fellow HBR blogger and "strategy guru" Gary Hamel that "most companies, in most industries, suffer from a kind of tunnel vision: They chase the same opportunities that everyone else chases; they miss the same opportunities that everyone else misses."

It's an issue we've blogged about before, but Taylor makes the point clearly and forcefully and offers some great examples of companies with personality who are not afraid to show it off. How about "Umpqua Bank in the Pacific Northwest, which has reimagined its branches as community centers" or "London Drugs, a pharmacy chain in western Canada whose stores sell everything from prescription medicines to high-end furniture to marriage licenses--an eclectic mix that generates more sales-per-square-foot than Wal-Mart."

The conclusion: ask yourself what makes your company unique and once you've found an answer, make sure you tell your employees.

(Image of tunnel vision by Gare and Kitty, CC 2.0)

  • Jessica Stillman On Twitter»

    Jessica lives in London where she works as a freelance writer with interests in green business and tech, management, and marketing.