When Benchmarking Is DangerousPosted: March 23, 2012
One Saturday a few months ago, a friend and I were leaving a Dallas Maverick’s game (yes, I’m a fan) to meet up back at my home. We were driving separate vehicles, and in a moment of masculinity I challenged my cohort to a friendly game of “last-one-there-buys-dinner.” I’m sure in a fit of childish exuberance you’ve done the same.
While cruising down the highway, I thought I noticed his SUV in passing and knew I had this one in the bag.
I was sorely mistaken. When I pulled up to my home he was already there waiting for me.
It happens to the best of us.
We benchmark our achievements and progress to our competitors, but sometimes we’ve made a mistake. We’ve compared ourselves to those we ought not be compared. We’ve boxed our company into an industry too specific — too static — to define our true competition. Like the CD manufacturers before iTunes (who thought they were in the CD making business instead of the music distribution business) or the railway industry (which thought it would always be the standard for distribution) before pipeline, trucking and airlines took a chunk of their market, we have compared ourselves to the wrong SUV and end up having to buy everyone else’s dinner.
Benchmarking can be dangerous. Wield its childish exuberance with maturity, plenty of research and skepticism.
And don’t be caught at Q4 with your true competitors holding your potential market share, and your company out of a meal.
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