A trendy and new topic for businesses and organizations of all kinds to focus on has become Core Competencies, and over the following few weeks, I’d like to share this topic with you.
When it comes to American success stories, the two Steves at Apple probably rank pretty high on your list. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started Apple, Inc. in a garage in 1976, selling computer kits to hobbyists for $50 apiece. By 1980, Apple went public, and Jobs and Wozniak became millionaires. Today, 45 years after Apple began, Jobs and Wozniak are considered pioneers of personal computing.
If you find yourself asking how Jobs and Wozniak were able to turn Apple into such a huge success so quickly, you’re not alone. People all over the world have been studying these two, trying to unlock the secret of their success. But in reality, it’s not all that complicated. They just knew what their strengths were, and they played to them. They understood their core competencies. Leveraging core competencies is about playing to your strengths. The problem is sometimes we fail to recognize our own strengths.
Wozniak was the engineering genius who designed the systems and the programs that moved personal computing from a dream into a reality. Jobs was the visionary who saw the potential in Wozniak’s technical doodads, securing the funding and directing product development with the customer in mind. Wozniak was the man who made home computers possible; Jobs was the man who created a product that we didn’t even know we needed.
You can argue over who was smarter, who was more charismatic, or who contributed more to Apple’s success. But when it comes down to it, what really matters is that both men understood where they excelled and they maintained their focus on that particular core competency. Some people can code, and some can sell
What Is Core Competency?
In 1990, strategists C.K. Prahalad and Gary Hamel wrote an article called “The Core Competence of the Corporation” for the Harvard Business Review. In this article, the pair wrote that we should stop thinking of businesses as collections of different business units but rather as a set of core competencies, “the collective learning in the organization, especially how to coordinate diverse, productive skills and integrate multiple streams of technologies.” 1
In a nutshell, these two strategists were saying that companies find sustained success by acknowledging the specialized skills their employees possess that add significant value to their products.
Basically, core competencies boil down to three things:
1. Does it apply to a broad range of industries?
2. Does it make the end product more desirable to the consumer?
3. Is it hard to imitate or replicate?
Since these three definitions are fundamental to understanding core competencies, it’s worth taking a moment to think about them a little more. Let’s dig into them more deeply.
Wes Berry is a Keynote Speaker and Workshop facilitator with the professional skills and real-life experience to deliver on any stage. He is a TEDx Speaker and a Wall Street Journal best-selling author; he has written twelve books in the business and success genres. As an entrepreneur, he built a $750 million international company that operated in 130 countries. Wes has even done some standup comedy as well as radio and television.
His Keynote Speaker and Training catalog extends to the following areas. Motivation, Leadership, Growth, Teamwork, Integrity, Core Competencies, Change, Inclusion, Stress, and Communication. All of his talks are seasoned with a dash of humor.