Don’t Get Dropped on the Hill! How to Stay Relevant and Competitive When the Terrain Is Not In Your Favor

Tom Boonen (181 lbs) at the 2010 Tour of Flanders

I know what it feels like to be the big guy in a group. While my frame would be considered normal in most settings (6ft – 185lbs), as a cyclist I’m quite large, and therefore at a disadvantage when it comes to climbing long steady hills. In my chosen sport, it’s the small guys that are quickest and most agile and tend to be the first ones to the top. In today’s fast-moving, ever-changing business terrain, smaller, more agile organizations also have a competitive advantage in being able to adapt and move quickly.

In cycling, I have learned to use to use my size to my advantage when riding in a less-than-optimal environment, namely by capitalizing on momentum. If I can power down one hill, I’ve got the advantage of momentum in getting up the next. Larger organizations tend to have this advantage as well. If they’ve grown to the size they’ve reached, it’s usually because they are at the top of their game and have gathered some momentum. Additionally, they tend to have more power and greater access to resources, all of which translate to greater competitiveness if they can learn to use their advantage.

The last thing you want in today’s business landscape is be stuck dead in the water, or, to stick with the cycling analogy, coasting toward a hill. You might find yourself overtaken by a scrappy upstart. In order to stay relevant in today’s market as a large organization, you must leverage all your resources and learn to use your momentum to stay ahead.

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