Human Resources

Skills for Outmaneuvering the Competition

by Jeffrey Phillips and Alex Verjovsky

In yesterday’s Advisor, Jeffrey Phillips and Alex Verjovsky, authors of the book OUTMANEUVER: OutThink, don’t OutSpend, discussed the importance of maneuverability within an organization. Today, Phillips and Verjovsky discuss some specific skills and capabilities necessary for this strategy.

You need people who can execute new strategies, people who can compete in new ways in order to remain competitive and to grow in the new-market realities. What kinds of people are necessary to conduct maneuver strategies and tactics? What skills and capabilities does your organization need to succeed?

While an attrition strategy is relative simplistic, a maneuver strategy requires more careful planning and execution. Attrition seeks to mimic, or copy, existing solutions and to engage competitors in head-to-head competition. Maneuver looks for overlooked opportunities and valuable but unoccupied positions or seeks to attack competitors indirectly.

For these reasons, maneuver requires more competitive insight and intelligence-gathering, identifying emerging segments, and competitor tendencies. Maneuver also requires people who can interpret the intelligence and make rapid decisions. Maneuver requires people who can innovate new solutions for new and existing customers. From these requirements and others, we can see that competing with the maneuver strategy requires new skills and capabilities, including:

  • The ability to move quickly and decisively, using speed in two dimensions: planning speed and execution speed;
  • The ability to shift course, act nimbly, and demonstrate agility;
  • The ability to gather and interpret information about customers, markets, and competitors;
  • The ability to move quickly and quietly to valuable new positions, or to act in a stealthy manner;
  • The ability to communicate clearly and accurately as new needs evolve or as circumstances change;
  • The ability to delegate effectively, as agility and speed require delegation; and
  • The ability to understand new needs and innovate new solutions.


These skills and capabilities are what new competitive markets and strategies demand. Does your existing workforce have the skills to compete as markets, competitors, and consumers create rapidly changing market conditions? Can you afford to react to markets that are constantly changing, or can you begin to develop the skills necessary to remain competitive?

Maneuver strategy demands a new kind of thinking, but more importantly a new kind of workforce. Already we can see demands for more speed, more agility, and more innovation. Approaching these demands as discrete requirements may be helpful, but providing an integrated approach as proposed by the maneuver strategy places these demands in context. Speed, agility, and innovation provide maneuverability, but only when the critical resources of an organization—its people—are able to perform.

Is your workforce ready to compete in an entirely new way? Does it have the ability to develop and interpret competitive insights and draw conclusions about emerging opportunities? Can it move quickly and decisively to new conclusions? Does it have the ability to change direction quickly? Does your workforce communicate effectively and clearly in order to delegate responsibility quickly and effectively? Does your workforce have the capability to innovate consistently? If not, you may find your market share and profits eroding, and face dramatic disruption.

The new book OutManeuver: OutThink, Don’t OutSpend describes the strategies you need to compete in the emerging new market and the kinds of people and skills that will help you compete.