What It Takes To Stay Competitive

The image given below shows a 2×2 matrix with size on the y-axis and speed on the x-axis. Size can be represented as market share, revenue, or units sold.

Speed is the speed of innovation of a company relative to the industry. When a company, product, or service is ahead of the competition, speed is high. When it is lagging behind the competition, speed is low.

Jungle-GraphicBut why is relative speed so important? Because, if you are not faster than the competition, you can get eaten up.

Speed and size could be divided into four positions namely, Elephant, Tortoise, Rabbit, Jaguar.

  • As a tortoise, breakthrough innovation is critical. An all-out effort at breakthrough innovation should be the primary focus.
  • As a rabbit, speed of innovation is high, but it is not translating into size, and it is time to reevaluate.
  • An elephant is the most difficult spot to be in. The size has lulled the organization into overconfidence, complacence, and at times, arrogance.
  • And while every company, product, or service strives to be a jaguar, even a jaguar has some steps to take. A jaguar has to be alert — very alert.

Apple’s iPhone was a jaguar. Big, and years ahead of the competition. It got there through a series of breakthrough innovations: the touchscreen, an integrated smartphone, and the pricing. It was moving fast, but soon it was overtaken by Samsung’s Galaxy. Apple’s slipped from jaguar to elephant rather swiftly.

Samsung’s Galaxy caught up with all that Apple had to offer and added several innovations, the key ones being a bigger screen, better GPS functionality, a range of phones to cover all segments from low-end to high-end, better rendering of websites with flash players, and better working relationships with partners — operating system partners like Google and Android, carriers like Verizon, and retailers like Best Buy.

RIM and Nokia were other jaguars which have been relegated to tortoise quadrant rather rapidly. They were the leaders in the world of smartphones. But they failed to maintain their leadership position. Blame it on their inability to keep pace with innovation: RIM stuck with its physical keyboard for far too long; Nokia stuck with a dated operating system.

Two important lessons that present day jaguars could learn from the experiences of Apple, Nokia and RIM are:

  • Every organization must have some seeds of breakthrough innovation and must cultivate its patch in order to ensure a good harvest tomorrow.
  • A diversified company needs to see its portfolio of companies and decide where it should emphasize breakthrough innovation.

Adapted From :  Finding Your Place in the Competitive Jungle


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