The competitor to be feared is one who never bothers about you at all, but goes on making his own business better all the time. –Henry Ford
At a recent quarterly meeting the topic of competition came up and the results were not surprising. On one hand there were people who understood the competition at the visible level – their market actions right down to recent account wins / losses and their quotes and proposals . On the other hand there were internal team members (Finance / HR) who knew only basic facts. A third group understood competition at the product level and saw the competition, great and small, at the same relative level as measured by features functions and benefits. All three groups were correct. The CEO allowed the discussion to flow for a bit and then reinforced his vision and the achievements that are expected this year. Perfect!
Knowledge of the competition is needed, but an unbridled passion about your own products, not competitor paranoia is far better. To be driven by your market instincts and fact based analysis of the CUSTOMER is far better. To stifle / disallow mealy-mouthed ramblings that amount to excuses is far better. Don’t allow folks to carry on about competitors unless they have validated data that is vital to the business (major M&A deal, new executive, etc.). I’v observed over the years that much discussion about competitors surrounds some type of explanation or excuse related to our own performance. At the end of the day very few of those conversations changed our level of performance.
So I say this – look forward and drive your business and know what’s behind and around you but don’t obsess about it or allow paranoia to seize your team. Your scoreboard will tell you everything you need to know.
Henry Ford was right – the real threats are silent and are not worried about you.
Be the silent one driving forward.
Be the one to be feared.