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Competition from an Unexpected Direction

Updated: Dec 31, 2020

Photo by conner bowe on Unsplash

I found this article, which has been shared on LinkedIn and garnering many comments, to be an insightful reminder to us all (big corporations or freelancers) that (new) competition is always out there.

The barrier to entry for thought leadership is now zero, whether you call it the "democratisation of the ideas marketplace" or not, anyone can post content for free on LinkedIn or a personal blog.

Professional speakers are being challenged by what they are calling The TED effect that I doubt they saw it coming. And yet with the benefit of hindsight, it was obvious.

Very few professionals or businesses win by being the "cheapest" price operator whether it is selling widgets or speaking professionally. The key is to differentiate and create scarcity in one form or another so that it is difficult to replicate what you offer.

Whether you are budgeting and planning for the next year or the next few years, always make sure time is spent on the "what if's" and the "unknown unknowns". And watch out for groupthink, as Adam Grant says in his 2016 book "Originals: How non-conformists change the world"

"Groupthink is the enemy of originality; people feel pressured to conform to the dominant, default views instead of championing diversity of thought."

There are many ways to effectively challenge the status quo:

  • Question the default, don't embrace the status-quo.

  • Triple the number of ideas that you generate, don't obsess on a few - throw ideas against the wall and see which ones stick.

  • Seek more feedback from peers.

  • Speak to a different audience, what is going on in a different sector?

  • Unearth dissenting opinions, these are incredibly useful even if they are wrong.

  • Gather a group and spend time brainstorming how to put your organisation out of business.

  • When presenting ideas, also include the alternatives that were considered but discounted and why

As a leader create a learning environment where sharing ideas and speaking up is the default:

Leaders challenge the status-quo.


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