Monday, July 11, 2011

How To Annihilate the Competition

If you lead a team or an organization, simply executing strategies to survive is not enough. You should be looking for ways to annihilate your competition – market dominance. While it may sound counter-intuitive, the best way to do this is to annihilate yourself first.

To do this, have your direct reports work in teams and individually. Ask them to create a
fictitious company. The company they create does not have to be in your industry. This fictitious company has to provide products or services that are so good they will make your enterprise obsolete in 6-12 months. 

To ensure it is done effectively, they should know nothing is off limits. Your people have to have free rein to imagine what they believe would expose your company’s weaknesses and make you obsolete. If you do not allow their imaginations to roam, you will end up with more of the same of what you already have and the exercise will be useless. Remember, most disruptive technologies come from outside your industry. For example, Apple was not founded to compete with the Walkman or cell phone. However, they now dominate those sectors because they created disruptive technologies before Sony or Motorola.

Once your direct reports have created these corporations, you should spend no less than a half-day, with the entire team, going through each company they have created. As you listen to each person, you can expect to hear about untapped talent as well as untapped demand from your customers.

With this news, you and your team should be able to put a strategy together that will give you market dominance in your industry. At the same time, you should be alarmed at the weaknesses that have been exposed.

If you are the CEO, this news should be shared with the entire organization. People should be made aware that the company is at a crossroad. There is the risk of being annihilated by a competitor or the opportunity to lead your industry and grow beyond your core competencies. People will need to understand that there is a new strategic direction and to fulfill it they will have to continue to find fictitious competitors that can make them obsolete. More importantly, people have to think differently. They have to know that business as usual is a path to obsolescence. 

Consider this, if you are able to think of possibilities that can put you out of business, it is a matter of time before your competitors or someone from outside your industry puts the stake in your heart.

If you are not the CEO, this news should be reported to your superiors. In fact, you should let your superior know in advance that you are doing this exercise and you would like to solicit his or her input.    

Moves like this will not only benefit your organization, it will benefit your career. The best way to move up the ladder or grow your organization is to create initiatives that benefit many stakeholders. Ultimately, as a leader, your job is to make something happen that would not have happened if you were not there. And this exercise empowers you to do exactly that.   

For those of you who are daring enough to put this strategy to use, let me know.

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