Competitive Success


An industry’s key success factors (KSFs) are those things that most affect the ability of industry members to prosper in the marketplace—the particular strategy elements, product attributes, resources, competencies, competitive capabilities, and business outcomes that spell the difference between profit and loss. Key success factors concern what every industry member must be competent at doing or concentrate on achieving in order to be competitively and financially successful. KSFs are so important that all firms in the industry must pay them close attention—they are the prerequisite for industry success. The aswers to three questions help indentify an industry’s key success factors:

  • On what basis do customers choose between the competing brands of sellers?
  • What must a seller do to be competitively successful—what resources and competitive capabilities does it need?
  • What does it take for sellers to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage?

Determining the industry’s key success factors is a top priority. At the very least, managers need to understand the industry situation well enough to know what is more important to competitive success and what is less important. They need to know what kinds of resources are valuable. Misdiagnosing the industry factors critical to long-term competitive success greatly raises the risk of a misdirected strategy—one that over-emphasizes less important competitive targets and under-emphasizes more important competitive capabilities. On the other hand, a company with perceptive understanding industry KSFs can gain substantial competitive advantage by training its strategy on industry KSFs and devoting its energies to being better than rivals on one or more of these factors. Indeed, KSFs represent golden opportunities for competitive advantage—companies that stand out on a particular KSF enjoy a stronger market position for their efforts. Hence using one or more of the industry’s KSFs as cornerstones for the company’s strategy and trying to gain sustainable competitive advantage by excelling at one particular KSF is a fruitful approach.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Lectures, Line of Sight

Markets as Networks


Actual firm relationships must be seen on a spectrum between outright competition at one end and collusion at the other. At the very least, such a self-evident observation raises the issue of the firm (or business unit) as the basic, and often only, unit of analysis: in certain circumstances we might more appropriately consider an information coalition of such firms as the key unit.

Earlier, the border of the company was seen as the dividing line between co-operation and conflict – cooperation within the company and conflict in relation to all external units. The corresponding means for coordination are heirarchy and the market mechanism. The existence of relationships makes this picture more diffuse. There are great opportunities for cooperation with a lot of external units forming, for example, coalitions. Thus, it is often more fruitful to see the company as a part of a network instead of a free and independent actor in an atomistic martket.

However, the recognition that there is a network of relationships is merely the first step. Approaches need to be developed for the analysis of the network.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Lectures, Line of Sight