A friend recently told me about how some restaurants in her town are joining forces to
improve the customer experience as well as their operations. The restaurant industry is a cut-throat world. Yet, here are competitors joining forces. I’d say their strategic alliance strategy is pretty sound. Daring you say? Does the thought turn your stomach or does it make you thirst for more?
In Your Competitors Are Your Allies (http://thewatertrough.typepad.com/the-water-trough/2014/10/your-competitors-are-your-allies.html ) I wrote about the virtues of developing strategic relationships with your competitors. I’d like to continue with a look at moving beyond the fear that is often associated with this idea.
Keep Your Friends Close and Your Enemies Even Closer
If you still view your competitors as the enemy maybe it’s time for a change of heart. Who else knows what you’re doing (and trying to do) better than your competitors? Who else shares the challenges you experience more so than your competitors? Who else has more to gain from the latest break-through than your competitors? The information you and your competitors share may be the very stuff that allows you all to stay in business. Think of your competitors as colleagues who are looking to make a difference just like you. Enemies? Get over it! You really are all in this together!
Redefine How You Perceive Risk
If the idea of developing a strategic alliance with a competitor scares you it’s likely that you perceive the idea is risky. You might be asking yourself: What will I give away? How much will I lose? How much of an edge will I provide to my competitor?
Consider these questions: What knowledge might I gain (that I might not otherwise have)? What is the benefit to being able to reach out to someone who really understands the challenges I face? What is possible with a joint effort that neither of us can achieve effectively or practically, if at all?
Look Forward Not Behind
Forward looking business people (read: successful business people) understand that past performance is not an assurance for the future. Past relationships do not foretell the future either. Opportunity is conceived or recognized today and is brought to fruition in the future. Keep an open mind rather than allowing the past to serve as a fortune teller or a road block.
So the concept of strategically aligning with your competitors still doesn’t feel right? No worries, you are far from alone. That said, I bet I got you thinking and that’s a good thing.