Don't Be Distracted By The Competition

July 1, 2015 liane

I’m on vacation with the home team.  (Actually, with the Dance Team as both my girls are competing at National Championships this week.)  That provided a great opportunity to introduce you to a new voice.  You’ll recall a few months ago that I shared the story of three new folks joining our team.  They’ve settled in beautifully and they are already full of great insights about how to improve team effectiveness.  Today, I’ve asked Aubrey Chapnick to guest on to share one of his. Enjoy and I’ll see you back here next week.

Your maniacal preoccupation with what the other guys are doing might actually be stopping you from unlocking substantial value for current and potential customers. Recently, I worked with a team who were too focused on what their competitors were doing and were not taking the time to figure out what they needed to do.

The team was from a large professional firm that was struggling to come together after a restructuring. They were extremely bright. They were passionate, experienced and wanted to do great things for their organization and their customers. After taking them through an environmental analysis exercise, it also became clear that this team really knew their stuff. Especially about who they were up against.

What they didn’t know however, was what they needed to do as a team to win. They were unclear about the value their organization needed from them. They seemed to have spent a lot of time looking at what their competition was doing and little time getting aligned on the strategy that they needed execute. All of that expertise was being wasted because of the team’s lack of role clarity and the lack of a unifying team mandate.

The sad reality is that this is not uncommon among teams. It’s an example of common error teams make: too much time trying to understand the competition and too little time figuring out how they can enrich their customer’s lives.

When organizations become too focused on their competition, they lose sight of other things that might be a lot more important. In this team’s case, they thought that understanding the ins and outs of who they were up against would best position them to compete. But until they translated that into what they needed to do differently to win, it wasn’t going to translate into results.  With a little prompting, they realized the real opportunity to add value was for the team to: 1) educate the broader organization on its service offerings; and 2) link its sales and operations departments together to enable the flow of information that would make the lives of its customer’s easier.

Being too focused on the competition is a common problem for teams and organizations, here are four questions you should ask yourself to shift from spending too much time on others and start pushing to understand what is most important to the success of your business.

  1. What are the primary ways your business environment is changing?
  2. How are your customers changing? What do they expect? What do they value?
  3. How can you add more value for customers? What are your differentiators?
  4. What is your organization counting on you to do to make your organization more competitive?
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