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12 Strategies for Increased Competitiveness Predicting the future, no matter how much data you have, is a dicey proposition. Nonetheless, Rice University Building Institute’s work in this area would be largely useless if we couldn’t provide insight into how future market leaders are likely to acquire prominence. Conventional wisdom tells us that yesterday’s leading A/E/C firms achieved their positions by consistently applying three practices:

Aggressive personal networking Effective competitive sales Consistently performing as promised

Customer Intimacy


Today’s game is more complex. We believe there are 12 performance characteristics, each requiring its own executable strategy, that will be essential to consistently outperforming the competition.

The issue here is pretty simple. The path to higher value, more prestige, and more revenue for any company goes right through the practice of increased customer intimacy. The key is asking better questions of the right people and being willing to reshape a firm’s offerings to respond to the articulated and, even more to the point, the unarticulated needs of major repetitive buyers. In a highly competitive environment, the object is to differentiate. This simply cannot be done if a competitive strategy is based on the same information used by one’s competitors. The last thing we are looking for is a fair fight. We must base our competitive behavior on information no one else has. So how do we get it? We began our research of this issue by asking a collection of corporate facility owners in upper management a pointed question: “When considering a new facility, we know that you describe to your design team what your company is about and what your goals are for the new building. But do you discuss the details of your most basic corporate strategies with your architects, engineers, or builders?” We got a resounding no. Why? Three reasons were most often provided: 1. They don’t understand what I’m talking about. 2. They don’t care because it’s not necessary for them to understand the intricacies of our various strategies in order to design and build a new building. 3. This information is proprietary and there is no advantage to shar-

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Inspire with vision. Vision-driven companies attract better employees, function with greater purpose, and are more adept at holding the attention of high-value clients. Lead with values. Companies that genuinely nurture a culture of well-developed values are more effective in the marketplace.

Focus competitive programs. Distractions are everywhere. We find that the fourth leading cause of failure among ventures less than five years old is a lack of competitiveness focus.

Capture category ownership. Dominating a market category, even temporarily, can be handsomely profitable. Tomorrow’s market leaders will know how to shape new categories and declare ownership. Use persistent branding. Branding has been studied for years and yet few companies in the A/E/C industry regularly exploit its power.

Create marketing breakthroughs. Tomorrow’s market leaders will develop the capacity to repeatedly win projects for which they are not the most qualified competitor. continued on page 69

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Texas Architect Jan/Feb 2010: Design for Education