How much effort does your organization spend on productivity improvement, such as lean sigma initiatives, optimizing payment conditions, and renegotiation of lease contracts?
Next question: How much of this effort results in actually moving away from the competition?
If your competitor decreases production cost by x% per year, and you do the same, your relative competitive edge is unchanged.
Any productivity improvement which results in merely keeping up with the competition, is not an improvement, but organizational hygiene: A necessity to stay in business.
A relentless and ever increasing focus on improvement activities can therefore be a very dangerous thing: It may suck away all oxygen from innovation activities. Only innovation will help an organization to distinguish itself from the competition.
As the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland said: “It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that.”
This is the Red Queen Conundrum: The better you get, the better you better get.
Stop running. Innovate instead.