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Recently, my friend came across an email he'd received from his boss. The more I think about it the more I want to discuss the topic with him.
The email reads Our competition is doing it, so let's jump in. At first, the statement sounds right and feels like it can get one motivated to get with the program and try to stay competitive. There are a few dimensions I'd like to discuss that may have some bearing on weather or not this jumping in is a good idea.
Dimension 1: Jump off a cliff
Remember that old saying If all your friends were jumping off a cliff would you? Well, that's kind of like what this statement is answering. Yes, we are going to jump off that cliff because our competitors are doing it. Are our competitors making sustainable profits from jumping off the cliff? If so, then I'm all for jumping in and developing a plan to get some of those profits too. If they aren't and they are all just following another business trend, then we're all going to feel the pain.
Dimension 2: Differentiation
Does jumping in with our competitors compromise our company's differentiation? In other words, is what we're going to do in effect put us on the same shelf as the rest of the competition where it's hard for a customer to recognize any difference between a large number of alternatives? (Have you ever been to the health care isle and seen the number of different toothpaste?) If our business fails to deliver a differentiated product in a saturated market how can we stay competitive? Also, does jumping in take away what makes our company what it is?
Dimension 3: Follow the Leader
This Dimension is probably a continuance of Dimension 1. The follow the leader attitude is not an attitude I would want my business to take. It says to our customers that we can't come up with any ideas ourselves so we have to rely on what our competitors do to stay in the game. In a perfect world, wouldn't a company want to stay ahead of their competitors, not right behind them? It all goes back to having intelligent outside of the box creative thinkers who help drive innovation in your company. Fostering creativity usually brings innovation, which can help your organization stay ahead of the game and on top of the competition.
These are just a couple of the things I was thinking about when I first read my friend's email. There are many other things to think about I'm sure, but for starters we'll go from here.