Bottom Line: For companies, sustaining a consistently high level of performance requires unique capabilities that may differ sharply from the strategies they used to succeed in the first place.
Not a surprising finding
Leading firms set themselves apart by achieving a high level of performance and meeting or exceeding consumers’ expectations relative to the competition. It’s usually an arduous, years-long process. But sustaining that level of performance is a completely different challenge — one that few companies can overcome in the modern business landscape….
…After controlling for firm size, competitive intensity of a given industry, and level of uncertainty faced — in the form of rapid technological developments or changing market conditions — the authors found that four particular capabilities emerged as integral to sustaining high-quality performance:
Improvement. This capability was defined as a firm’s ability to make incremental product or service upgrades, or to reduce production costs.
Innovation. Defined as how strong a company was at developing new products and entering new markets.
Sensing of weak signals. Defined as how well a company can focus on potential banana peels in order to improve overall performance, including analyzing mistakes, actively searching out production anomalies, and being aware of potential problems in the surrounding business environment.
Responsiveness. Defined as a business’s ability to solve problems that crop up unexpectedly and to use specialized expertise to counter those complications.