Building Capabilities: The Path to Moat Trajectory and Improved Performance

Alessio Frateily

Hatched by Alessio Frateily

Sep 03, 2023

3 min read


Building Capabilities: The Path to Moat Trajectory and Improved Performance


In today's competitive business landscape, companies strive to establish sustainable advantages that can set them apart from their peers. These advantages, often referred to as moats, are essential for creating long-lasting value. However, before a company can build a moat, it must first develop a set of capabilities that enable it to operate effectively and earn returns above others in the market. This article explores the relationship between capabilities and moats, highlighting the importance of each in driving success.

Capabilities: The Foundation for Moat Trajectory:

Before diving into the concept of moats, it is crucial to understand the significance of capabilities. Capabilities, also known as "powers" by some, are intangible assets that businesses develop to enhance their operations. These capabilities allow companies to outperform their competitors and establish a foundation for future growth. They serve as the stepping stones towards achieving a moat trajectory.

Building upon Greenwald's Manifesto:

Bruce Greenwald's book, "Competition Demystified," provides valuable insights into the different types of competitive advantages. Greenwald categorized these advantages into two distinct camps: customer captivity and resource captivity. Customer captivity refers to the ability to acquire and retain customers more easily and cost-effectively. On the other hand, resource captivity focuses on the efficient production of products. The strength of these advantages is directly related to the scale of the company. Larger companies have a natural advantage in both customer and resource captivity.

Moats: The Ultimate Goal:

Once a company has developed a set of capabilities and is on a moat trajectory, it can begin to establish a moat. Moats are proven, perpetuating, and permanent unit economic advantages that set a company apart from its competitors. These moats provide a company with a sustainable and long-lasting competitive edge. However, it is important to note that moats are not built overnight. They require time, effort, and a relentless focus on evaluating and enhancing these advantages.

The Inner Game of Work: The Role of Focus and Desire:

In Timothy Gallwey's book, "The Inner Game of Work," he presents a unique framework for coaching, teaching, and learning. Gallwey's approach challenges the traditional notion of self-improvement and performance enhancement. He emphasizes the importance of quieting the critical, analytical self (Self 1) to allow the intuitive, embodied self (Self 2) to take control. By redirecting focus and reducing self-imposed pressure, individuals can tap into their true potential and achieve improved performance.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Invest in Developing Capabilities: Companies must prioritize the development of capabilities that align with their long-term goals. This investment will lay the foundation for future growth and establish a path towards a moat trajectory.
  • 2. Embrace a Focus-Driven Approach: Individuals should adopt a focus-driven approach to work and personal development. By quieting the critical self and redirecting focus, individuals can tap into their intuition and enhance their performance.
  • 3. Continuously Evaluate and Enhance Advantages: Companies must consistently evaluate their capabilities and moat trajectory. By identifying areas for improvement and investing in strengthening their advantages, companies can maintain their competitive edge and adapt to evolving market conditions.


In the pursuit of sustainable and long-lasting value creation, companies must prioritize the development of capabilities before establishing moats. These capabilities serve as the building blocks towards a moat trajectory, enabling companies to outperform their peers. By incorporating a focus-driven approach inspired by Gallwey's framework, individuals can tap into their true potential and achieve improved performance. Ultimately, the journey towards building capabilities and establishing moats requires continuous evaluation, adaptation, and a relentless pursuit of excellence.

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