The key to competitive success—for businesses and nonprofits alike—lies in an organization’s ability to create unique value. Porter’s prescription: aim to be unique, not best. Creating value, not beating rivals, is at the heart of competition.
In business, multiple winners can thrive and coexist. Competition focuses more on meeting customer needs than on demolishing rivals. Just look around. Because there are so many needs to serve, there are many ways to win.
In the vast majority of businesses, there is simply no such thing as “the best.” Think about it for a moment. Is there a best car? A best hamburger? A best mobile phone?
This, says Porter, is competitive convergence. Over time, rivals begin to look alike as one difference after another erodes. Customers are left with nothing but price as the basis for their choices. This has happened in airlines, in many categories of consumer electronics, and in personal computers, with the notable exception of Apple, the one major company in that industry that has consistently marched to its own drummer.