Chapter 9: Competition
Company Competition at the Level of the Individual
The free market system works because winning new business against worthy competitors is a constant and serious challenge, since all those who are competing want or need that business. Those organizations that succeed in winning and effectively executing that business prosper for themselves (owners and employees), and provide value for their customers, adding to the human well-being in general. The level of competitiveness depends on their motivation. A turned on organization, in which the “reasons we work” are facilitated and imagination, passion, and courage are fostered, will succeed on a reasonably level playing field.
In an earlier chapter, a point was made that in the effort to create a quality response to an inquiry, the special machine tool company in effect pitted their people against their competitors, people in a virtual head-to-head contest for the winning solution. The individuals in the client organization, auto companies for example, responsible for acquiring equipment are in the same situation with respect to their individual counterparts in the competing auto companies. The goal of these people is to enable their company to develop and offer high value products more effectively than their counterparts in worldwide competitor companies. Obviously, procurement of the most effective tools (processes and hardware) will be instrumental in achieving those goals. It is not always seen in that light, as a bureaucratic environment and a low initial purchase price auction can obscure the real objective at the engineer and buyer level. They may not appreciate the threat posed by their aggressive individual counterparts.
The outcome of the procurement exercise includes how well the equipment is selected as well as how well it is managed. It is also what is learned in anticipation of the next product generation and its associated production equipment. It can be a great idea, but if it is not imaginatively operated or managed as intended and the lessons learned from it are not absorbed, it would not advance the process.
Anticipating the toughest, most tenacious competitor creates the effect of bringing out the best competitive response from all of us. The effect is apparent in professional athletics. Consider a typical preparation of the second place team for a game against the first place team versus the preparation for the game against the last place team. Less serious competitors can elicit less preparation. In a business competitive exercise, all the toughest competitors are in every game with just one winner, so the maximum effort is necessary every time if we hope to succeed.
Some companies are able to create an atmosphere that develops energy based on beating the competition, even specific competition, as in professional sports. It is a cheer leading exercise that injects energy and momentum. We must anticipate the toughest every time out. The perception of being the weakest could draw a less competitive offering. A laid back, low-key, and non-flamboyant profile makes some sense. The anticipation of a tough competitive exercise every time will keep us sharp and on our toes and growing from the experiences.
No matter how creative and how well a solution excels in its ability to solve the problem at hand or to satisfy a customer’s inquiry, there will always be a better one. The buyers/users of the special machine tool products must understand that and also realize that their competitors from around the world could beat them to that better solution. If the objective is low price, without full consideration of the other important tangible points of value, the benefits of competition cannot be realized.