How do you see competition?

Do you respect your competition? Not that it matters to them, but if you are worried about competition, you may want to change your attitude to one of “respectfully curious.” Why? Because competitors can be your best friends — if you are in the product development chain.

Competitors are looking at the same market data, trade magazines, professional society publications, and employment data that you are. And they hear the same rumors and tales of new products and ideas. How does that help you? By having a close look at what their strategy is (which you have to impute from seeing their products and announcements), you get a feel for how they interpret that data. Then you can look at your own interpretations and find the differences. What opportunities do you see that they don’t? How is your business model — or user interaction model — different from theirs?

Having found differences — or made them up on the fly — you can charge onward with your product strategy, with a little more confidence that your viewpoint is distinct from the competitors’ view.

What are key things to look for? Try these: frequency of product introductions; pricing, individual and quantity; free trials? service and support? characterization of the user or buyer of the product or service; objective for the product — how do they think the user/buyer will benefit from the product?

No two companies see markets and users in the same way. Cherish your own distinctness and develop it further by looking at the competition — with respect and curiosity, but not with envy.

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    About John Levy

    John Levy works with senior managers in mid-sized organizations who are responsible for development and delivery of major software or hardware/software products. He helps them gain confidence that their projects will succeed.

    Development projects can fail in many ways. You need a guide who speaks the language of business and is knowledgeable about technology. John aligns Development with the organization's strategy so it will contribute efficiently to the success of the enterprise.

    John has been consulting for over 20 years. His book on managing high-tech teams, Get Out of the Way, was published in 2010.

    For more information, email him at, or call 415 663-1818.
    And check out John's profiles on LinkedIn and Twitter!