Strategy's Golden Rule

Umair Haque, Director of the Havas Media Lab, writes:

What your fiercest rival does badly, do incredibly well.

It makes so perfect sense, that it is painful when people don’t seem to follow it. Anyone who is serious about winning starts of by looking at how to beat the competition. Unfortunately, more often than not, we end up trying to beat the competition at what they do best rather than what they do poorly.
Instead of: “Let’s beat the iPhone by creating a phone with a faster processor and a super bight and sharper screen!”
It could be: “Let’s beat the iPhone by creating phones that are reliable, and if it breaks have a damn good no questions asked returns policy.”
Instead of: “Let’s beat the Casio G-Shock by making a stronger more rugged watch!”
It could be: “Let’s beat the Casio G-Shock by making a slim but incredibly strong watch”.
Here is a good one, instead of: “Let’s beat Playstation 3 and X-Box 360 by making faster and more powerful gaming machine!”
It could be: “Lets beat Playstation 3 and X-Box by making fun games for everyone including non-gamers.”
Think about that when you next propose a design strategy or craft a product proposition to your clients?

via Harvard Business Review.

2 Comments
  • Saikat

    June 29, 2010 at 6:14 pm Reply

    Interesting thought.
    I think it’s not just difference in the words it’s also how you approach a challenge and *think*. I mean, if you are saying the first one, you might just be trying to follow what the what the competitor is already doing, but with the second one you might not only ‘beat’ the competitor but you have the possibility of bringing totally new.

  • Rene Lee

    July 6, 2010 at 5:24 pm Reply

    By trying to beat the competitor at their game, you are, in fact, effectively proving them right. By taking an entirely different approach to the same goal, competition becomes irrelevant. Very interesting.

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