Keeping Up is a Fool’s Game:
By Daniel Burrus
up—with technology, with competitors, with anything in business or
life—is a fool’s game. Think about it…When you’re keeping up, what’s
the advantage? In reality, there is no advantage to keeping up,
because all you’re doing is making yourself just like everyone else.
You’re finding out who the best is and then you’re copying the best.
But by the time you get as good as the best, the best has already
moved on to something better, and you’re still far behind.
that “benchmarking” is just a fancy way of saying “keeping up.” When
you benchmark you’re simply identifying the best practices of what
others do well and then striving to imitate them. Again, once you
reach the benchmarked standards, the company or person that set the
benchmark has already moved on to achieve higher standards.
do you gain advantage and truly stand out from the crowd? The key is
to forget about keeping up and set a new standard for yourself and
your company. Consider the following suggestions:
to the Future: Rather than keeping up, smart businesspeople
benchmark in a way that looks to the future. When they plan their
future growth, they ask themselves three key questions:
are the successful companies evolving to?
path are my competitors on right now?
3. What’s the logical progression of the industry?
these questions enables you to go beyond your competition and get
off the treadmill of keeping up. It opens your eyes to future
possibilities—to stay ahead of the pack instead of side-by-side with
them. Remember: Only when you go beyond your competition will you
find advantage—and the financial rewards competitive advantage
What the Masses Don’t Do: Most businesses do exactly
the same thing as their competitors and then wonder why they don’t
have the upper hand. For example, chances are that in your business
you use a word processing program, and if you’re like the majority
of people, you use Microsoft Word. Did you know that there are over
four thousand features in Microsoft Word? How many of those four
thousand features do you use on a regular basis? Probably less than
ten percent. Do you think your competitors are using Word the same
way you do? Most likely, yes.
it a step further, when a new version of Word comes out, your
competitors purchase it, just like you. They even use the same
features in the new Word program as they did in the old
version—again, just like you. The point is that everyone is keeping
up, but few people are doing so in a way that produces any real
is to dedicate yourself to finding advantage and using it. Using the
word processing program example, to go beyond keeping up you would
ask yourself, “What are the features in Word that people are not
using that can give me an edge?” In other words, don’t just copy
what the competition does; rather, look at what they’re doing and
then do what they don’t do.
can’t find anything different to do, then analyze to determine if
there’s a better customer you can go after—one that’s better and
different than what everyone else is going after. Can you customize
your product or service for the better customer so that the better
customer would want what you offer and not what the competitor
offers? This is the process that gives you the advantage and it all
boils down to simply being more innovative on an ongoing basis.
Beyond Competing on Price: There are many ways to compete, yet
most companies tend to focus their strategies on only a few of the
many ways to gain a competitive advantage. This limits their ability
to create and sustain true competitive advantages. In order to have
a lasting competitive advantage, you need to go beyond pricing and
develop a competitive strategy that includes a wide spectrum of
wrong with competing on price to keep up? The main problem with
competing on price is that it means lower margins, meaning you need
high volume to make up for it. If your intent is to be a competitor
of price, then fine. Just realize you have many more options. In
addition to competing on price, you can compete on
away from keeping up with your competition, review the list of
different ways to compete and ask yourself, “Do I have a strategy
for every one of those different ways of competing?” Most companies
compete in only one or two areas and have a detailed strategy for
both. But few compete in all areas. To gain an advantage, you want a
strategy for every area. Detail how you are different in each area
so you can go beyond keeping up and truly stand out.
Imitate—Innovate: In the future, competition will intensify.
Therefore, in order to gain advantage, you need to differentiate
yourself from the competition. And while it is good to keep track of
the competition, far too many organizations focus more attention on
“keeping up” than on internal innovation.
there was a time when it made sense to play the one-upmanship game
of keeping up with the competition. But the dramatic changes spawned
by science and technology have made that a perilous game for the
present and a formula for disaster for the future. Those who merely
“keep up” are usually so caught up in meeting their day-to-day
challenges that they can only worry about the future, while the real
business innovators see the present as a stepping stone they can use
to get to a bigger and better future.
world is taking shape before our eyes, and no company can afford to
hide out in the old familiar places. While it’s important to stay
abreast of changes and update your company as new technologies and
developments unfold, it’s just as crucial to distance yourself from
the competition and embrace a forward thinking mindset that will
enable you to turn tomorrow’s opportunities into today’s profits.
Read other articles and learn more
about Daniel Burrus.
[This article is available at no-cost, on a non-exclusive basis.
Contact PR/PR at 407-299-6128 for details and