The levers of competitive advantage drive evolutionary change in business. As our economic society changes with new transportation, energy and information technologies relative advantage shifts and the thriving business change. With the proviso that any gross generalisation is untrue in a particular case, here’s a brief sweep over economic history.
Before the 19th century, an organisations best competitive advantage was its location. Transportation, energy and information costs made location a critical and often insurmountable advantage.
In the 19th century, an organisation’s best competitive advantage was ownership of an asset or technology. New energy sources, new information channels and new transportation options enabled new scale in monopolies and new returns from asset ownership.
In the 20th century an organisation’s competitive advantage was its efficiency in use of information and processes. Global consumer markets and long periods of economic growth rewarded those who optimised their execution for efficiency to reach these markets at a cost or margin advantage.
Now an organisation’s competitive advantage is its people. Organisations need the mindsets, culture, talents and other capabilities to adapt each day to a world of information transparency, global networked connection and rapid change. The effectiveness of people matters even more, if business must adapt to new approaches to use of energy. The effectiveness of a Responsiveorg comes from every employee better leveraging their information, networks and capabilities.