So, why do we compete?  Why do we place so much focus on this?  We will commit endless amounts of time and energy making our “stuff” one degree better than the next guy.  As markets are contracting, we will go to great lengths to separate ourselves from the field.  We will scrutinize our proposals so that they are more detailed.  We will tighten our numbers so that our bids look more attractive.  We will elaborate on our approach so that we will stand out.  The trouble is that everyone else is doing the same.  So often, we will go out to meet with a potential client and there are already ten bids sitting on the table.  I can’t help but ask myself, what are they looking for?  Is it merely to see who has inched out the others and offered them the most bang for their buck?  We keep saying that surely people want more. 

     I think that the trouble is that we are feeding the Beast.  We are active participants in the game whether we are aware of it or not.  I came across this book by Youngme Moon a couple of years ago and it truly struck a chord with me.  I Love Paradoxes of Life and Youngme articulates this one so powerfully.  She is no slouch either.  We’re talking Professor of Business Administration at The Harvard Business School.  The main premise is that “Going tit for tat and adding features, augmentations, and gimmicks to beat the competition has the perverse result of making you like everyone else”.  We saw this very phenomenon play out in the new home market right before the crash.  As the playing field  became more crowded, our products actually became more homogeneous.  When someone introduced a new feature, everyone else had to include it.  When someone expanded their warranty program, everyone else soon offered the same.  And Thus, all the homes became the same.

     I’m not saying that we should lift our eyes from continually improving operational matters.  We must always remain aggressive about strengthening our abilities.  It is the most important way to build sustaining trust with our client base.  (Not to mention, it is something that the customer inherently expects anyway).  I personally treasure a high performing organization.  I value a well-oiled machine.  Providing substance and security to the client is mandatory when establishing ones merit.  However, we must be very careful or our approach can easily slip into a “Race to the Bottom” when we are merely trying to separate ourselves from the pack.  We must commit everything we have to resist this.  Our Focus Needs to Shift from the Competition to the Client.  I may be a bit of an “Outlier” here, but, this is where my aspirations lie.  I want to compete for the Client’s attention and the opportunity to earn their trust.  I believe that we must break away from the crowd and earnestly seek out projects that excite us, those that ignite our passions within us, and then do everything in our power to put ourselves in position to vie for them.  Only then will we bring something more to the table because our enthusiasm will shine through and energize the potential of what the project could be.  I believe that this is what will distinguish us from the rest.

So, why do we complete?  – Let’s compete to win the hearts and minds of the Clients and not to win the job from the Competitor.  In fact, let’s forget that the competitor even exists at all.

Please check out the Well Composed Life page for more on this theme.

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