First…Forget the Competition

First…Forget the Competition

Jan 18, 2012

 
* “Look at what they are doing”…
* “Wow they are so much better than we are”…
* “Why can’t we do things like them?”…

Sound familiar? If not, pay attention because I’m not sure you are listening.

The quotes above can be heard daily. Ringing loudly from just about every team meeting being held in every board room around the world.

Just what are these mysterious little quips?

From afar I would suggest these phrases are coming from bored children or the losing varsity football team. To that I would say, “Close,” but not quite.

These envious little dialogues are far more problematic. These words resonate beneath the skin of leaders and business owners everywhere as they suck the life out of their employees.

These words while small, represent a systemic organizational dysfunction that comes from paying entirely too much attention to what the competition is doing, and consequentially taking your eye off of executing your own strategy.

If you listen closely you hear it all of the time. Employees, Managers, and Executives alike are infatuated with the competition. Watching their every move, obsessing over what they are thinking, and trying to always stay one step ahead.

While a noble intent, the plan is flawed. Here is why…

UNTIL WE ARE EXECUTING OUR OWN PLAN SUCCESSFULLY, IT REALLY DOESN’T MATTER WHAT THE COMPETITION IS DOING.

So here is my suggestion. Stop worrying so much about what the competition is doing.

Yup, that is right, I’m saying take the eye off the competitor…For now.

The point here is not to say that the competition doesn’t matter. Trust me when I say; it does. Every strategy text book ever written would tell you this. They dedicate an entire section to “Competitive Forces.”

However, what the books don’t point out is that the importance of outside influencers are diminished exponentially if you aren’t executing your own plan.

The Suggestion?

Know your market, know your competitor, know your business…but execute first!

Once you are doing everything right on your end, then you can worry about everyone else. But for now, “Run Your Own Race” – Anonymous.

16 comments
DaveGallant
DaveGallant

I stopped dwelling on what my competitors were doing, and shifted the focus internally. Now my competitiveness is driven from within.

AmyMccTobin
AmyMccTobin

LOVE it. I always check in on them, but try to do that very infrequently.

Natasha_D_G
Natasha_D_G

Funny but in convo on #HBRChat today when asked directly what I thought was the secret to self belief I tweeted "Acceptance. Look in your own mirror not at reflection of others RT @catmangan: what is secret lesson to maintaining self-belief? #HBRchat" It applies here as well. If we're too busy looking at the reflection from our competitors we hinder our own progress. Especially too when that reflection may be inaccurate depending on the "light and angle."

alankay1
alankay1

Competitive forces are one element to be looked at in strategy and seen as a source of insight, e.g., what customers want, etc., but thinking you can compete and copy your way to greatness is simply daft. Obsessing about the competition leads to shortsighted thinking. This is especially true when organizations think the competitor is attacking them directly for gains in market share. All the more reason to zig when they zag.

profkrg
profkrg

Daniel,

It's a little bit ironic that I wrote this post on comparing ourselves to others in the workplace, http://www.profkrg.com/nerd-note-stop-comparing, during the same time that you wrote this. I wonder why we do this. We're so caught up in what other people are doing, thinking or saying that we forget to focus on our own goals.

I think we may be sharing a brain!

Kenna

Latest blog post: Media Jobs for Jan. 18

debtcoachcanada
debtcoachcanada

Great post Daniel. I see it all the time that entreprenerus spend way too much time worrying about what others are doing-in business- and in personal lives as Bruce Sallan commented. Nike ads says it best ...."just do it!"

danielnewmanUV
danielnewmanUV moderator

@Natasha_D_G Acceptance huh? I think that is interesting. I do think it all starts with us. We will not be successful unless it is by our own standards. Same goes with our business. We need to know what it means to execute. Start there...then look at the external forces.

danielnewmanUV
danielnewmanUV moderator

@alankay1 Alan, nice insight as alwayas. I try to zig all day long. I'm not saying don't pay attention to what they are doing. I'm simply suggesting most of us aren't doing our own thing well enough to get caught up in what they're doing. Trust me, companies like Kodak clearly missed the boat and should have followed their competition.

danielnewmanUV
danielnewmanUV moderator

@profkrg sharing a brain prof? Hmmm...you aren't giving yourself nearly enough credit :)

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  1. […] First…Forget the Competition (Millinnial CEO) These words while small, represent a systemic organizational dysfunction that comes from paying entirely too much attention to what the competition is doing, and consequentially taking your eye off of executing your own strategy. […]

  2. […] time ago I wrote a blog called “First Forget The Competition.” Its premise is before we can worry about the others in our industry we must focus on ourselves and […]

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