The Secret to Ultimate Competitive Advantage

By Daria Steigman, founder of Steigman Communications, LLC and author of the Independent Thinking Blog.

Some companies just have an “it” factor—and it can make all the difference. Take Amazon, for example. Recent thought-provoking articles in Business Insider and HBR blogs have suggested that investors ought to be thanking and not tanking Amazon in response to the company’s moves to position itself for long-term success rather than short-term profits.

Which brings me to Beyond Performance, in which co-authors Scott Keller and Colin Price argue that:

“Performance-focused leaders invest heavily in those things that enable targets to be met quarter by quarter, year by year. What they tend to neglect, however, are investments in company health—investments in the organization that need to be made today in order to survive and thrive tomorrow.”

The authors go on to define organizational health as “a company’s ability to align, execute, and renew itself faster than the competition.”

Keller and Price use the analogy of a world-class athlete: it’s not enough to set performance goals and have a training plan, you also have to monitor and manage your health (diet, fitness, blood pressure, body fat, and so forth) to achieve peak performance into the future.

5 Steps to Reposition Your Company

Beyond Performance: How Great Organizations Build Ultimate Competitive Advantage takes the reader through five steps that are designed to guide entrepreneurs and other business leaders to take a more macro look at their own organizations:

  • Establishing targets (Where do you want to go?)
  • Assessing readiness for change (How ready are you to get there?)
  • Shifting mindsets (What do you need to get there?)
  • Establishing proof of concept (How do you manage the journey?)
  • Implementing continuous improvement (How do you keep moving forward?)

As Amazon’s recent stock dip shows, selling people on long-term organizational health over short-term profits can be a hard sell. Keller and Price tackle this head on by packing their book with extensive research and a wide range of real-world examples. But that’s also what makes Beyond Performance hard to read.

The best business books both educate you and give you a concrete roadmap to applying that knowledge in your own organization. This isn’t, however, a book you can just pick up and browse. You have to work hard to map out what the authors are teaching you. Implementing wholesale change is tough, and I would have liked to have seen takeaways, worksheets, and other business tools to give the reader a better starting point for figuring out how to dig in.


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