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Do you know the difference between a manager and a leader? According to Dr Alex Maritz, managers survive, leaders innovate. So, what do you do?

The rapidly changing global scenario—defined by global competition, rampant change, faster flow of information and communication, increasing business complexity and pervasive globalisation—exerts many pressures on Australian businesses. Some may see these as threats and hurdles, while others view them as opportunities.

Let’s identify some of those entrepreneurs that used this complexity to their advantage (a full list of the Dynamic Business 50 Favourite Entrepreneurs is in the July 2007 edition). Wotif founder Graeme Wood marketed online discounted accommodation by creating higher customer value and radical technology innovation. John Ilhan of Crazy John’s fame is now the largest independent phone retailer in Australia having created new adaptable business models and providing customer intimacy. Tom Potter of Eagle Boys, Tim Pethick of Nudie Juice, Dr Peter Farrell of Resmed, Mark Bouris of Wizard Home Loans, Andrew and Paul Bassat of Seek, and Graham Turner of Flight Centre, all adopted market-leading strategies, defying traditional strategies of just merely staying alive in business. They may not necessarily be the largest in their market, but are most certainly leaders.

But what competitive strategies did these entrepreneurs implement? Let us first identify what competitive strategies are. Competitive strategy means deliberately choosing a different set of activities to deliver a unique mix of value. These activities are the basis of your competitive advantage.

New Survival Strategies

In today's tidal wave of global economic, technological, and social change, the name of the game for your company is survival, and you’re not going to survive in this new economy through technology innovation alone.

Many believe that, to have a better chance of success, organisations need to engage the energy, creativity and intelligence of the whole workforce and involve other stakeholders, such as customers, suppliers, investors and the community.


If you are going to withstand relentless and constantly growing global competition, you need to be different and radically change the way of doing business. You have to give up the old hierarchical, adversarial approach that wastes individual talents and saps energy in unproductive conflict. Instead you need to create a new management model, switch from management to leadership, manage change, build trust, drive out fear of failure and create productive partnerships in which everyone can offer their unique knowledge and talents.

D’Adveni identified the following steps needed to implement competitive strategies. The above-mentioned entrepreneurs would have most certainly implemented some, if not all, of these disruptive strategies.

• Find new ways to improve customer satisfaction.

• Find opportunities through understanding trends of change.

• Develop the ability to move quickly.

• Develop the ability to surprise.

• Shift the rules of the game.

• Invest in strategic market communication.

• Attack with several competitive weapons simultaneously.


I identify two core areas of competition: winning and retaining customers; and building a sustainable, competitive advantage. A survival and leadership strategy is identified for each competitive strategy, ranging from customer value to business innovation. These core areas may go a long way in facilitating competitive disruption in your business.

© 1000ventures.com (A. Maritz)

I recommend you put a tick next to your own competency and strategy within your business. If you have most ticks in the ‘survival strategy’ column, you may indeed be efficient (doing things right) in your business activities. As such, you are most probably a good manager of your business. If you have most ticks in the ‘leadership strategy’ column, you may indeed be effective (doing right things) in your business activities. In this case, you are most probably a leader. Successful entrepreneurs most often fit within the leadership strategy.

Are you a manager surviving or a leader innovating? If the latter, be aware that you need someone to work in your business, while you work on the business!

* Dr Alex Maritz is director of the Master of Entrepreneurship and Innovation for the Australian Graduate School of Entrepreneurship, Swinburne University of Technology.

* The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and don’t necessarily reflect the opinions of DYNAMICBUSINESS.com or the publishers.

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