Monday, April 05, 2010

Mind Your Own Business

"Strategy is about creating next practices and not adapting to best practices in the industry." Vijay Govindarajan, Professor Tuck School of Business,Dartmouth College

Professor Govindarajan's statement perfectly sums up my approach to business. For the past 10 years I've done my best not to look at or care about what my competitors are doing with their products and services. While I admit to a mild (occasionally wild) curiosity, I recognize the danger in seeing the way another vendor approaches our business. Once I have seen their products, it's likely I will unconsciously (or consciously) be swayed to build ours to look and act like theirs. And what use in the marketplace is there for a product that already exists?

The strength behind a company is its unique approach to solving a problem or unleashing an opportunity. In my industry, rather than look at the "normal" way that HR vendors create and deliver products, I like to focus singularly on what would be most appealing, helpful, productive, cost-effective, easy and powerful for HR professionals (our buyers).

It perhaps sounds a conceit to say that I am not concerned about what my competitors are offering but it is only a liability if I take my eyes off the ball of what our buyers want and need. Successful entrepreneurship and mature company innovation require a healthy dose of the rebel rather than that of the good follower.

What do you think? Am I keeping my products fresh and innovative or am I missing opportunities and should be sent back to B-School?


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