The Core Conflict at the Heart of Competitiveness

Is there a ‘simple’, definable challenge at the heart of the problem of competitiveness, for organisations to overcome; something that is a profound, underpinning hurdle that is keeping them from improving their ability to compete?

Yes. There is a very profound conflict, a dilemma indeed; that is so perfectly simple, yet disturbingly insipid and indelible.

A blog post exchange I had today reflected on the increasingly impersonal nature of corporations, that is both very apparent and well documented. Back when those organisations would have been ‘merely’ ‘humble’ SMEs/SMBs, they would have actually cared about the customer. That’s arguably why they set up in the first place; their raison d’être.

As every small startup, or relatively small and new organisation starts to ‘grow’, then their purpose begins to evaporate and customer-centric care is lessened, to the point of being lost. The focus shifts.

I consider the main challenge for competitiveness to be this; there is a core conflict that comes into play when an organisation gets to some sort of critical size or stage of ‘development’. A change of emphasis, rather than some tipping point. It it when the company starts to become more disposed to providing *less* (i.e. save money / economies of scale etc) when the customer of course, always wants at least a decent level of service/value (and increasingly wants *more*).

This presents a conflict; and results in a regression, rather than evolution, for an organisation. From small, lean, agile and caring… to uncaring, company-centric, cost-focused, selfish, one-sided…. and of course, impersonal.

Can we break this? Can we eradicate our predilection for margin, making things on the cheap? I think that the only way we can progress – and evolve in business – is to crack this conflict.

We cannot truly find, create, or deliver ‘true value’ unless we do just that.


(Footnote: today, too, I saw a post in LinkedIn that stated ‘unless your organisation is growing it is in poor health’; this broad assumption or presumption helps underpin and propagate the above conflict. To ‘grow’, something has to give; unfortunately, it is more often value and service that has to give, as a sacrifice to the great growth god.)