I am continually surprised by seasoned sales and marketing professionals who believe that as long as they focus on the customer, they won't need to worry about the competition.

Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your competition is paramount if you want to shape opportunity. We use a concept called Center of Gravity to assess the strengths and weaknesses of competitors. The concept of center of gravity has received much attention by the military as the basis for formulating battle strategy. A center of gravity analysis generates an in-depth study of yourself and your

The March 2000 Air Campaign Planning Handbook contains an excellent explanation of center of gravity. I'll paraphrase from the handbook:

...Center of Gravity (COG) should provide you with as clear a picture as possible of how an adversary functions; of his strengths, and of his possible vulnerabilities to dislocation and exploitation... At the same time, the analysis should also point out your own vital strengths and their critical vulnerabilities to be defended...

There are several methods you can use in order to establish center of gravity. The Air Campaign Planning Handbook describes a methodology developed by Dr. Joe Strange called the CG-CC-CR-CV model: CG - Center of Gravity, CC - Critical Capabilities, CR - Critical Requirements and CV - Critical Vulnerabilities. Dr. Strange describes how each one of these links can be manipulated in order to neutralize competing centers of gravity. Here are the coordinates for Joe's book:

**Strange, Joe, Dr., Centers of Gravity & Critical Vulnerabilities: Building on the Clausewitzian Foundation So That We Can All Speak the Same Language. Quantico, Va., Marine Corps War College (Perspectives on Warfighting, No. 4, 2nd ed.), 1996.

How do we use center of gravity? We have developed a tool for evaluating competing centers of gravity. Our tool uses 50 assessments to gauge relative competitive strengths and weaknesses. We also evaluate the center of gravity of the industry and then plot the results of the assessment on our Terrain Map.