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Could your weakness be your competitive advantage?

Why is it that doctors always seem to keep you waiting? No don’t answer, it’s a rhetorical question. But I think many of you will agree that this is a common frustration about visiting the doctor – he or she is “running late”. I was waiting at my doctor’s office a few days ago and I noticed a new sign just behind the receptionist’s desk:

I was impressed with their approach. Clearly, “running late” is a common occurrence in this office, but the staff here have found a way to turn this negative feature into something positive. It reminded me of something I read several years ago called “Feature the Flaw”. Blogger Scott Anthony explained how the eco-tourism hotel industry has turned a set of flaws — basic rooms with no air conditioning, no TV and no room service, but a plentiful supply of mosquitoes — into features that can command price premiums. They positioned something negative as a benefit. Clearly this doctor’s office has taken a similar tactic.

So what can you do to apply this principle in your workplace? You no doubt have flaws in your products and services; is there a way to position these flaws differently so that your stakeholders will see them as positive features? If your clients or employees tell you that there is a potential failing in one of your ideas, can you spin the problem around by looking for an external client or internal customer who would consider that very failing a feature? By changing your point of view (and helping others see it), you could very well turn a weakness into a competitive advantage.

Do you have any examples of how companies have turned flaws into features?  Do share!