Three Questions to Help Assess Your Strategic Position

by H. James Wilson

I’ve spent some of my professional life in strategy research and consulting organizations, where developing diagnostic frameworks on competition is the name of the game. But as comprehensive and complex as they are, these models are often unhelpful (or impenetrable) to front-line practitioners who might use them to improve day-to-day decisions and actions.

In contrast, I encounter some of the most practical competition frameworks in my personal life, where I train for and race in triathlons. For instance, fellow triathletes organize the competitive landscape of world-class competitors, like Ironman Hawaii qualifiers rather simply; FOPs are “Front of Pack” athletes who finish in the top 5%. MOPs are “Middle of Pack” and BOPs are “Back of Pack” (laggards and new entrants just getting into world-class competition. MOPs and BOPs have one goal: improve steadily from one race to the next; move toward the FOP.

I wondered if I could apply this simple framework to organizational competition, so I conducted a fun experiment, applying the FOP/MOP/BOP segmentation to a sample of 305 global companies that recently reported facing intense competitive pressure in their industry. (Source: 2010 Babson Executive Education survey. Thanks to Dr. Elaine Eisenman and James Liljedahl for input.)

Using annual revenue growth as the performance measure — the “finishing time,” if you will — I segmented competitors as follows:

* FOPs achieved greater than 15% annual revenue growth, which neatly puts them into the top 5% of all companies in the sample (16 companies in all)
* MOPs achieved 1-15% growth over the past year, and represent 48% of of the sample (145 companies)
* BOPs showed flat or declining revenues, and represent 47% of the sample (144 companies)


by H. James Wilson

I’ve spent some of my professional life in strategy research and consulting organizations, where developing diagnostic frameworks on competition is the name of the game. But as comprehensive and complex as they are, these models are often unhelpful (or impenetrable) to front-line practitioners who might use them to improve day-to-day decisions and actions.

In contrast, I encounter some of the most practical competition frameworks in my personal life, where I train for and race in triathlons. For instance, fellow triathletes organize the competitive landscape of world-class competitors, like Ironman Hawaii qualifiers rather simply; FOPs are “Front of Pack” athletes who finish in the top 5%. MOPs are “Middle of Pack” and BOPs are “Back of Pack” (laggards and new entrants just getting into world-class competition. MOPs and BOPs have one goal: improve steadily from one race to the next; move toward the FOP.

I wondered if I could apply this simple framework to organizational competition, so I conducted a fun experiment, applying the FOP/MOP/BOP segmentation to a sample of 305 global companies that recently reported facing intense competitive pressure in their industry. (Source: 2010 Babson Executive Education survey. Thanks to Dr. Elaine Eisenman and James Liljedahl for input.)

Using annual revenue growth as the performance measure — the “finishing time,” if you will — I segmented competitors as follows:

  • FOPs achieved greater than 15% annual revenue growth, which neatly puts them into the top 5% of all companies in the sample (16 companies in all)
  • MOPs achieved 1-15% growth over the past year, and represent 48% of of the sample (145 companies)
  • BOPs showed flat or declining revenues, and represent 47% of the sample (144 companies) Leer más “Three Questions to Help Assess Your Strategic Position”