Competitive myopia

I recently had a conversation with the publisher of a start-up niche business-to-business magazine.  We had pointed out several things that we felt were opportunities for him.  For one, our view—confirmed with some informal research—that the “look and feel” of his product was not what it could be, and that with a small investment, he could bring it up to the much higher standard we feel he needs.

His reply was that, even though he’s always interested in making improvements, they weren’t needed here.  The reason?  He had just met with his chief rival, the CEO of another similar publication, and they both had agreed that my client’s product had the better approach.

This illustrates perfectly what in my experience is one of the most common hazards of conventional competitive intelligence—one I’ll call competitive myopia. Competitive myopia is defined as a focus on a competitor or rival that is so intense that it causes distraction from larger strategic threats or opportunities.

BearCompetitive myopia results in a mindset that says:  If we just manage to beat the other guys, we’ll do fine in our market.  “I don’t have to outrun the bear,” goes the joke about the two men meeting the hungry bear in the woods.  “I just have to outrun YOU.”

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    COMPETING IN THE KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY is written by Timothy Powell, an independent researcher and consultant in knowledge strategy. Tim is president of The Knowledge Agency® (TKA) and serves on the faculty of Columbia University's Information and Knowledge Strategy (IKNS) graduate program.

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