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Use your core competencies to your advantage

If an outsider to your business were to ask you what your core competencies are, would you be able to list them? Core competencies are the key aspects of your business; the things that you do really well and if understood properly, can transform your business and even your industry.

Too often, when leaders think of the key skills and functions of their organization, they list things that are either too detailed or too task- or product-specific and miss out on the bigger picture. Your core competencies are not merely the things that you do well right now, but are the things that can be leveraged in the future to further expand your business to new levels.

In his 2006 article, Competing for the Future, management expert C.K. Prahalad gives the example of Sony, famous for initially pioneering transistor radios, but whose real core competency lie in miniaturization. Sony's ability to realize this key strength helped enable them to expand their business by continually creating new products to miniaturize. This is a great example of how a company can use its true core strengths to its advantage by expanding its business and building market share in industries it didn't even initially compete in!

When thinking about your own set of core competencies, try to think of the bigger picture. What processes have you put in place which help you conduct business right now? How can you leverage those processes to improve the way your conduct your business or develop new products that appeal to your core set of customers or even new ones? By thinking more broadly about the key skills of your business and having open and candid discussions about these "real" skills with your employees, your organization will be much better positioned to grow and thrive in an ever-changing business environment.

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