Last week, Kash Gokli (Professor of Manufacturing Practice and Director of the Engineering Clinic at Harvey Mudd) and I led our most recent Harvey Mudd Executive Roundtable on the topic of competition. We created these roundtables to bring Southern California executives together to network and discuss timely topics for organization success. We had a fascinating discussion about two general themes: How to develop a strategy to make you stand out from the crowd so you have no competition AND how to collaborate with your competition for win-win success. In today's Amazon-impacted, competitive world, it is wise to be thinking about your closest business challengers unless you want to be left in the dust.
Let's start by making sure you know your competition. Certainly, as an executive, you'll be aware of your competitors. The key question is most likely: Could your teams identify the key players? Which competitors are most prevalent in your industry? Now for the clincher – how well can you and your organization describe how you stack up vs. your competition? Start here and really drill down to the details.
Next, let's move on beyond understanding the competition. Do you understand your vision and whether you are fighting it out on a weekly basis? Or do you have a strategy for how to distinguish yourselves from other businesses such that for all intents and purposes, you have no competition? It’s easier said than done but definitely worth considering.
And let's not forget collaboration. Almost every attendee could come up with an example of how they were collaborating with a competitor for the "right" situation at the "right" time. Can you find ways to collaborate for win-win success? It might just pay to remember that your relationship network is one of your most valuable assets.