25 March 2008

Competition vs Opposition

Many people treat their competitors as their oppositions - the enemy. This is incorrect. Competition and Opposition differ and the ways to handle them are also different.

In opposition, you have 2 parties - yourself and the opposition. In competition, you have at least 3 parties, 2 or more competitors trying to get the business of the one customer. There is the referee called the Customer who decides who win or loose. In opposition, your focus is the opposition. In competition, your focus should be the Customer and not just your competitors. You can win deals without even bothering about the competitors so long as you keep your eye on knowing and satisfying the Customer needs.

Overcoming Opposition
There are a few techniques to overcome opposition.
  1. Get the Purpose and Come out with Alternatives.
    Many quarrels may share the same purpose but disagree on the methods. e.g. Both parents want their children to do well but argue about the training and skills the children need to do well. In this case, it is best to list all the alternatives to achieve the same purpose and evaluate them.
  2. Get the Different View Points
    Quarrels arise also because of different points of view. The viewpoints of employees, management, stakeholders, and customers are different. What is good for one party may be bad for another. Creativity and innovation are needed to ensure win-win for all parties that are involved.
  3. Re-frame the Issue by looking from the Higher Level.
    When two subsystems conflict, resolution can usually be resolved at the system or super-system level. Take a look at banding of smoking in building. The higher level issue is fresh air inside building. Smoking are usually allowed in open-air. What are the factors causing bad-air in sick building ? Better filtering system, regular cleaning, air-circulation, etc Sources of bad air include our foods consumed in building, chemicals in paints, copying machine, carpets, etc. The solution might to have better areas for foods (pantry), smoking, copying when the circulation can be specially provided for.
  1. Focus on the Needs of the Customer 1st. Know your customer well.
  2. Show that your proposal is the best fit and give best outcomes for your customer from his point of view. This is habit 5 of 7 Habits of Effective People. Seek 1st to Understand and then Be understood. Note, attention is on the customer, with and for the customer and not the competitions. Competitor offering could be a reference but not the priority.
  3. Collaborate with Competitors.
    Competitors share the same market pie - make the pie bigger and all can grow together. There are advantages that competitors are co-located at one place to create the draw. Competitors also help us and challenge us to improve ourselves to provide better offerings for our customers and bring growth to the total system.
Competition in many cases are good for the competitors themselves beside the customers. Opposition is different, opposition want you to loose and that is a real war.

See also: Business as War is Half the Truth