Competitive Advantage

Working with the social sector is an interesting paradox. You get innovative and leading answers to causes that are supported by a variety of fans and followers. The Board of Directors for many of these organizations often contains individuals with great business experience and acumen. The disconnect often comes when the Board or supporters try to transport their business expertise and toss them at the nonprofit sector. In my consulting and facilitation role I often find myself acting as a bit of a translator between the two worlds. Some axioms work in both worlds. The notion of ‘location, location, location’ (physical presence or virtual on social media). Others are tougher. Having successfully completed a strategic planning project for an independent school, one of the thrills was to have access to a method that promoted the idea of ‘competitive advantage.’ This term resonated with the business leaders- they are constantly monitoring competitive advantage in their small business and corporate sphere. They could speak about competitive advantage in both the business and nonprofit world and it needed no translation.

Today I found myself reading Seth Godin’s blog which spoke directly to notion of competitive advantage. He frames the definition effectively. I will add to his drumbeat by saying that you cannot rely on the universe to deliver endless support if you cannot quantify how you are uniquely position to succeed. How is your organization meeting the need or addressing the root of the cause you have tackled? Be brave. You are not stealing from others by identifying and understanding you competitive advantage. I would argue that you are instilling a foundation from which all of your efforts have a launching pad.

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