In business, it’s always about being the best. You have to look out for number one. That’s your only priority. As long as you’re beating your competition, you’re set. Well, that’s not exactly true according to Professor Shahzad Ansari, a Professor of Strategy & Innovation at University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School. In a recent news article, he presented a different idea. “You don’t need to blow out someone else’s light to make yours shine,” said Ansari. “Going in too aggressively harms your own reputation and can wreck your business.”
In fact, Ansari thinks that too many companies take the wrong approach and end up blundering because they’re too busy focusing on taking out their rivals. Instead, he recommends that businesses learn to work together with their competitors to expand the industry as a whole. “Businesses have to work within an ecosystem,” he explained. “You’re reliant on other organizations to do their job which makes it possible for you to do yours. If you’re intent on shaking up an industry, you have to work within that ecosystem, not alienate it.”
His research went onto to talk about the “disruptor’s dilemma,” which reviewed how TiVo’s aggressive entrance into the TV industry ended up being its destruction. The company was so aggressive in its approach to changing how TV was watched that they ticked off all of their competitors, the very people they needed to survive. Fortunately, TiVo realized its mistake before it was too late, but it was a close call. Only once TiVo began working with network TV did they stick around while their competitors who were unwilling to bend didn’t.
And TiVo’s example is just one of many. Ansari also spoke about Uber, who similarly came out too strong and against their competition, which ended up getting them banned in parts of Europe.
The key is to use co-opetition instead of competition. According to Ansari, a good business strategy requires you to think broadly and to include your competitors in your decisions. Being a disruptor will online alienate your organization and ensure that you fail. “But embrace co-opetition, work with the ecosystem and add to the growth of the whole industry, and that way everyone can get a bigger slice of a bigger pie.”
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