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Just because the competition CAN do something doesn't mean they will. What WON'T they do?


In a previous post, I suggested asking your team "What would (competitor) be able to do with (idea or technology )?" if they tell you that the idea won't work in your organization.

Sometimes the opposite challenge occurs.

When it comes to Strategy (and its subset, Innovation), organizations spend a lot of time doing things like SWOT analyses, 5 forces, strategy canvases, etc. These are good, smart activities.

In my experience decision makers and influencers often get stuck while considering the competitive landscape as part of their analysis. They are paralyzed in making differentiating decisions as they start to imagine what the competition can do in response.

"They can copy this service within a year."

"They can beat our pricing by bundling with their other products."

"They can do this too."

Which then typically leads to the decision not to pursue the new, differentiating idea / strategic initiative because

"If the competition can just copy us, why should we go through the expense and trouble to do it first?"

These are all valid points and need to be considered. But (and it's a big but):

Just because the competition CAN technically do something doesn't mean they WILL do it. In fact, many times they won't.

So also ask yourself

"What WON'T our competitors do?"

as part of your analysis.

The competition may not do something because:

  • it doesn't fit their culture

  • it doesn't fit their strategy

  • they have too many other initiatives / projects

  • acquiring the IP or supporting structure may be too expensive

  • they are in the middle of a reorg and will be internally focused for the next two years

  • the value proposition for your project conflicts with their value proposition

Figure out what your competition is unlikely to do and you can make better decisions.

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