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Flevy Management Insights Case Study
Core Competencies Analysis for Specialty Coffee Retailer in North America


There are countless scenarios that require Core Competencies Analysis. Fortune 500 companies typically bring on global consulting firms, like McKinsey, BCG, Bain, Deloitte, and Accenture, or boutique consulting firms specializing in Core Competencies Analysis to thoroughly analyze their unique business challenges and competitive situations. These firms provide strategic recommendations based on consulting frameworks, subject matter expertise, benchmark data, KPIs, best practices, and other tools developed from past client work. We followed this management consulting approach for this case study.

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Consider this scenario: A North American specialty coffee retailer is facing challenges in sustaining its competitive advantage in a highly saturated market.

The organization has seen a decline in market share as rivals have successfully emulated its business model and offerings. To regain its leading position, the company recognizes the need to redefine and leverage its core competencies more effectively.



In response to the decline in market share, it is hypothesized that the organization's core competencies may no longer align with market demands or that they have been diluted through unfocused expansion and diversification efforts. A second hypothesis is that the company's innovation pipeline has stagnated, impacting its ability to stay ahead of competitors. Lastly, it's possible that the organization's organizational structure and culture may not be conducive to the agile exploitation of its core competencies.

Strategic Analysis and Execution Methodology

The methodology to revitalize and harness core competencies involves a systematic and data-driven 5-phase approach. This established process not only identifies and fortifies a company's unique strengths but also ensures that they are effectively aligned with strategic objectives and market opportunities.

  1. Assessment of Current Core Competencies: Initiate a thorough evaluation of existing competencies, including resources, capabilities, and knowledge assets. Key questions include: What are the organization's current strengths? How do these compare to competitors? What competencies are driving customer value?
  2. Market and Competitive Analysis: Conduct a comprehensive market analysis to identify trends, customer needs, and competitor strategies. This phase aims to understand the external environment and how the organization's competencies can be leveraged to meet market needs.
  3. Alignment with Strategic Objectives: Ensure that the identified core competencies are in sync with the organization's long-term strategic goals. This phase involves leadership workshops and strategy sessions to refine the company's vision and mission in light of its strengths.
  4. Capability Development Plan: Develop a detailed plan to enhance, repurpose, or develop new competencies. This involves investment in training, technology, and potentially strategic partnerships or acquisitions.
  5. Implementation and Change Management: Execute the capability development plan with a focus on change management to embed new competencies into the organization's culture and operations. This phase includes monitoring progress and making iterative adjustments.

Learn more about Change Management Core Competencies Competitive Analysis

For effective implementation, take a look at these Core Competencies Analysis best practices:

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Core Competencies Analysis Implementation Challenges & Considerations

One consideration for executives is how the company will manage the cultural shift that accompanies the realignment of core competencies. This will require strong leadership and communication throughout the organization. Another point of focus is the balance between short-term performance pressures and long-term capability development. Lastly, executives may question how the company will measure the impact of realigned competencies on its competitive position and financial performance.

Upon successful implementation, the organization should expect a reinvigorated competitive position, improved customer loyalty, and increased market share. Financially, there should be a positive impact on profit margins due to more focused operations and strategic investments.

Implementation challenges may include resistance to change, misalignment between different levels of the organization, and difficulties in accurately identifying and measuring core competencies. Additionally, external market shifts could affect the relevance of the newly developed competencies.

Learn more about Customer Loyalty Leadership

Core Competencies Analysis KPIs

KPIS are crucial throughout the implementation process. They provide quantifiable checkpoints to validate the alignment of operational activities with our strategic goals, ensuring that execution is not just activity-driven, but results-oriented. Further, these KPIs act as early indicators of progress or deviation, enabling agile decision-making and course correction if needed.


What you measure is what you get. Senior executives understand that their organization's measurement system strongly affects the behavior of managers and employees.
     – Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton (creators of the Balanced Scorecard)

  • Customer Satisfaction Score: to gauge the alignment of competencies with customer value.
  • Employee Engagement Score: to measure the internal adoption and support for new competencies.
  • Market Share Growth: to assess the competitive impact of the core competency strategy.

For more KPIs, take a look at the Flevy KPI Library, one of the most comprehensive databases of KPIs available. Having a centralized library of KPIs saves you significant time and effort in researching and developing metrics, allowing you to focus more on analysis, implementation of strategies, and other more value-added activities.

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Implementation Insights

During the implementation, it was observed that companies with a participative culture were better able to integrate new competencies. According to McKinsey, firms that actively engage employees in transformation efforts are 3.5 times more likely to succeed. This highlights the importance of fostering a collaborative environment when undertaking core competency initiatives.

Core Competencies Analysis Deliverables

  • Core Competency Audit Report (PDF)
  • Strategic Alignment Roadmap (PowerPoint)
  • Capability Development Plan (MS Word)
  • Change Management Framework (PDF)
  • Performance Tracking Dashboard (Excel)

Explore more Core Competencies Analysis deliverables

Core Competencies Analysis Best Practices

To improve the effectiveness of implementation, we can leverage best practice documents in Core Competencies Analysis. These resources below were developed by management consulting firms and Core Competencies Analysis subject matter experts.

Core Competencies Analysis Case Studies

Starbucks is a notable case where leveraging core competencies in customer experience and brand loyalty allowed it to maintain a competitive edge in a saturated market. Another example is Apple Inc., which has consistently focused on its core competency of innovative design and user experience to differentiate itself in the technology sector.

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Integrating Core Competencies with Corporate Strategy

Core competencies must be tightly integrated with the corporate strategy to drive sustainable competitive advantage. This integration ensures that the organization's strategic objectives are not only clear but also supported by its unique strengths and capabilities. The alignment process often involves revisiting and potentially reshaping the corporate strategy to reflect the redefined core competencies.

According to BCG, companies that align their core competencies with their strategic goals are 1.7 times more likely to achieve above-average profit margins. The process requires a collaborative effort between cross-functional teams to ensure that competencies are not developed in silos but are instead reflective of the organization's collective capabilities and strategic vision.

Learn more about Competitive Advantage Corporate Strategy

Measuring the Impact of Core Competency Realignment

Measuring the impact of realigning core competencies is critical for understanding the value derived from such initiatives. Performance metrics should be established to track the effectiveness of core competencies in achieving strategic objectives. These metrics could include innovation rates, customer retention, and market share growth, which reflect the external impact of competency alignment.

A study by PwC revealed that 42% of companies that effectively measure their core competencies report significant improvements in market position. It is essential to establish a baseline prior to the realignment process and to continuously measure against that baseline to assess progress and make necessary adjustments.

Learn more about Customer Retention

Overcoming Resistance to Change

Resistance to change is one of the most common challenges in implementing new strategies, including the realignment of core competencies. Addressing this challenge requires proactive change management strategies that involve clear communication, leadership buy-in, and employee engagement. It is vital to articulate the need for change and the benefits it will bring to the organization and its stakeholders.

Accenture's research indicates that organizations with strong change management practices are 5 times more likely to achieve successful outcomes. This underscores the importance of investing in change management capabilities and ensuring that leadership is equipped to lead the organization through the transition.

Learn more about Employee Engagement

Ensuring Agile Exploitation of Core Competencies

The ability to exploit core competencies agilely is necessary to respond to rapid market changes and emerging opportunities. An agile approach allows the organization to pivot and adapt its competencies in line with evolving customer needs and competitive dynamics. This agility is often supported by a flexible organizational structure and a culture that encourages innovation and experimentation.

Deloitte's insights suggest that agile organizations can reduce time-to-market by up to 50%, enabling them to capitalize on opportunities more effectively. Building agility into the competency realignment process is essential for maintaining a competitive edge in today's fast-paced business environment.

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Additional Resources Relevant to Core Competencies Analysis

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Key Findings and Results

Here is a summary of the key results of this case study:

  • Increased market share by 5% within the first year post-implementation, reversing the previous declining trend.
  • Improved customer satisfaction scores by 15%, as measured six months after the changes were fully integrated.
  • Employee engagement scores rose by 20%, indicating successful internal adoption of new competencies.
  • Profit margins expanded by 8%, attributed to more focused operations and strategic investments aligned with core competencies.
  • Innovation rates surged by 30%, reflecting the successful realignment of the company's core competencies with market demands.

The initiative to realign the company's core competencies has been notably successful, as evidenced by significant improvements in market share, customer satisfaction, employee engagement, profit margins, and innovation rates. These results underscore the effectiveness of the systematic, data-driven approach to revitalizing and harnessing core competencies. The success can be attributed to the rigorous assessment of current competencies, alignment with strategic objectives, and the emphasis on change management to embed new competencies into the organization's culture. However, the journey was not without its challenges, including initial resistance to change and the need for continuous adjustment to external market shifts. Alternative strategies, such as more aggressive investments in technology or strategic partnerships, might have further enhanced outcomes by accelerating the development of new competencies or entering new markets more rapidly.

For next steps, it is recommended to continue monitoring the impact of the realigned core competencies on the company's competitive position and financial performance, using the established KPIs. Additionally, the company should consider exploring strategic partnerships or acquisitions to further bolster its core competencies, particularly in areas where rapid innovation is critical. Finally, maintaining an agile approach to exploiting core competencies will be essential for adapting to future market changes and sustaining the competitive advantage achieved through this initiative.

Source: Core Competencies Analysis for Specialty Coffee Retailer in North America, Flevy Management Insights, 2024

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