core competency

Core Competency is business jargon for that thing you do as an enterprise. The thing you do, where if you don’t do it, you sort of cease to exist. It’s not competitive advantage – it’s simply the thing that defines the enterprise. My students struggle with this concept, and I (clearly) don’t do a great job of explaining it.

This blog post from Davenetics, entitled, “Do What You’re Great At,” is basically telling Yahoo that news is their core competency, and they should focus on that to the exclusion of search and other things. It’s well stated, and illustrates the idea of core competency well.

Some salient points:

So here’s a whacky idea my Yahoo friends. Why not define yourself by your news services and the other stuff where you destroy the competition?

Don’t settle for first place. Crush everyone. Be the place I browse for news, search for news, share news, annotate news, IM news, SMS news, listen to and watch news, eat and drink news, shoot news into my veins, snort news off the tits of more news. News goddammit, news.

Search is, for better or worse, your me too feature. You’ve got a damn exclamation point in your logo. Let Google keep the question mark. That battle is over. Don’t bring chains to a fight if you’re better with knives. Bring extra knives. News, entertainment and information is what you’re great at. You’re old enough to know that.

Deeply understanding your core competency is essential to business success. Losing focus of this typically leads to failure…long, drawn out protracted failure (cf. The record business).

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