In the IT service industry or specifically in the IT storage arena it is very clear to some what their biggest competitors are or are not. If DL(Def Leppard) Inc. gets word that VHS(Van Halen Storage) inc. now supports RAID 5150, DL starts pouring a little sugar on what RAID 5150 is. The marketing department then takes over and suddenly their version called RAID HYSTERIA is better than VHS’s RAID 5150. The customer is left confused, bewildered and forced to take sides investing in either company. Is this what you want for your customer? Shouldn’t you be competing against customer satisfaction and not amongst yourselves?
I know it’s crazy to think about sometimes. Without competition, how would anyone survive? “In basketball, no one would be successful without competition!”, you would say. I would give you the Harlem Globetrotters. They have been entertaining their customers in one form or another since 1926 and are very good at what they do. Are their customers happy? I would think so.
“In the pharmaceutical industry, there must clearly be competition, Sangeek!”, and I would give you AMGEN. When asked what competitors they had they responded with statements like:
“We’re in competition with cancer”, “Maybe our competition is flammatory disease, such as arthritis. Obesity, Parkinson’s.” and “We might be in competition with untimely death—human disease. I guess we’re not really targeting starvation or war” (Login,King,Fischer-Wright, 2008)
This had me thinking. In the IT service industry, what is our real competition? I believe statements from AMGEN are very admirable goals to have, but what can make an IT Service company or even an individual in that company stand out from the rest of the competition? By taking that further, how can we as an organization or tribe CHANGE the industry and do what is important?
I can think of a few!
“Our biggest competition is making sure our customers are happy at the end of every day”
“Maybe our biggest competition would be finding other solutions to enable our customers to be more efficient”
“Our biggest competitor is normalcy”.
That last one. Think about it. What is normal? Normal is comforting and stable but by continuing to break out of the mold we can make a new ‘Normal’ and continue to compete with it to make things better for ourselves and our customers.
I was thinking about this a lot this week when I was brought on by a challenge. I was tasked to do. Asking questions of the “Normal” support channel were just coming up with dead ends and lack of answers. I then thought to myself, “Self, who can you talk to that actually knows this answer?” Within the course of a couple of hours and a short conversation with an old friend I found an answer. I was able to reach out to people ‘outside’ the normal support channel by using my relationships and ultimately was able to satisfy the customer.
All I’m asking of you, my dear blog readers is this. Take time to think about what you are doing right now. Are you competing with something? Or should you be thinking about the greater good? Each one of these things can produce great products however only one can really give you true inner satisfaction in your career, your personal life and truly make a difference in other people’s lives.
Oh and if you haven’t read it yet, please read: Tribal Leadership by By Dave Logan, John Paul King, Halee Fischer-Wright. You can even download the audiobook if you have a lot of time in the car.