The Blue Dog Scientific Blog: How We Lost The Competitive Edge.

How We Lost The Competitive Edge.

Are Businesses Giving Too Much Away?
While Business is inherently competitive, competition does not mean Business can't be a team game. Good business does not preclude helping, supporting, mentoring others. Working in collaborations, partnerships, support networks, affiliations makes good Business sense. Competition is also healthy. As we know as users of social media platforms, monopolistic empires tend to be bad for Business!

 But in the final analysis Business is competitive. We all operate in markets which necessarily have a limit on the numbers of customers and a limit to the amounts of available spending money. When resources are finite, then unless we are a monopoly, we can only grow our market share at the expense of a competitor, whether it be another company or another business network operating in the same market. We lose when our competitors win more of the market. Business is not a truly social activity and never was and never can be.

 We therefore need to start being much more careful about what we are putting into the public domain as businesses, both in terms of quality and quantity. We all know other businesses are putting more and more information and know-how out on social media each month, but this should not drive us to do the same. We never know who's listening and most of the time we have no idea who or what is behind the electronic avatars at all. We have become rather careless about the knowledge assets of our businesses and rather care-free and cavalier about who we freely give it to.

It seems to me that in the days before social media, Businesses understood inherently the value of having an edge over their competitors. We took great care over keeping Confidentiality and we understood "Commercially Sensitive" only too well.

Then we started going social.

We started to whisper little teasers, to give away little titbits, those small nuggets of acquired knowledge, to get the attention of the customers-at-their-leisure.  Then others started to catch on about this new and rich hunting ground for businesses. The combined whispers started making the grounds a bit noisy, so we started talking a bit more loudly, began to give away a little bit more of our Competitive Edge just to keep getting noticed.

And still more Businesses came to the social media leisure parks, which were by this time starting to turn into Carnivals. Thus began the Social Media Arms Races. The Great Competitive Edge Give Away. The Head-to-Head Shouting Match to be as Social as possible. We forgot about the inherent value of keeping-it-quiet, we became insensitive to commercially sensitive. We broadcast our secrets to the world for free. And we devalued knowledge itself to the point that virtually any information is now findable somewhere online for absolutely free.

And then the owners of the leisure grounds got greedy and began to hunger for the lions share of all this action. <Its getting louder now> They began to charge us to put up our pitches in the now extremely crowded carnival. <louder>. They used our Competitive Edges Giveaways to attract yet more pitches to the party. While we had by now completely forgotten the inherent value in what we were giving away, they saw the True Value of it for themselves. <Louder>. In their own Arms-Race to exploit us, the landlords whipped us into a frenzy, egged us on, encouraged us. Give Us More <Louder> We Can't Hear You <LOUDER>.

Then they put up the rent.



Excuse me. Sorry for interrupting. Did you know that collectively we're screaming? That we're shouting at the top of our voices, shouting out all our best commercial secrets? Look there, friends, look at our neighbour, getting down on his hands and knees, literally begging people in the crowd to take away all his most valuable secrets and thoughts, begging for them to take his hard earned know-how for free, playing every trick in the book to get the crowd to share his secrets with as many unknown others as he can? 

Just  stop screaming for a moment and listen. Just stop and rub the carnival dust from our eyes and take a look around, friends. The customers-at-their-leisure had enough of the madness and left long ago. Its just us Carnival folk left now selling our trinkets to each other, trading our secrets!

Take a look outside.  The sly ones, the savvy  Business Men and Business Women, the ones who never forgot about The Competitive Edge also left long ago, quietly, they left with their customers while we were busy giving it all away. And they took, they used it. They're using it today. They still listen in while we carry on the Selling-by-Yelling. For they are the True Competition and we gave them all our Edges for free. They are the Dark Social.

Ssshh. Let's all be quiet for just a moment. Let's stop and assess what on Earth we are doing. Let's look outside at what we're missing. Let's just pause for thought...

 <but our eyes glaze back over and the screaming begins again.> 

LOUDER than ever before.

We're still in the waking dream, the nightmare story. We don't get to hear the pin drop. We will have to wait for the penny first. 


What is all this competition for attention, for headline space in the newsfeed, actually doing for us? The amount of material being shared every day by businesses world wide now is truly staggering, more than anyone could read in a lifetime, and the way in which it is relentlessly promoted is reaching the loudhailer level.

As far as I can tell none of this is doing much good for any of us. But we can't stop can we? And the social media platforms encourage us to do it more, they tell us we should pay more to do it to more people too. I don't think many people are listening anymore and I'm not certain there are many  buyers left - the vast majority of us are here to sell. Sure some people will win from this in the short term, but remember its always a zero-sum game.

 Would love your thoughts on these very difficult and challenging issues.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, yes, and yes! Content for content's sake is shoving useless information at all of us. Secrets are a thing of the past, and I totally agree that most of what's out there is the "same old- same old" with a new bow. I am happy to step outside with you!!