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Competition is irrelevant

Google’s Larry Page explains why so many companies miss the future and fail in an interesting Wired interview:

I worry that something has gone seriously wrong with the way we run companies. If you read the media coverage of our company, or of the technology industry in general, it’s always about the competition. The stories are written as if they are covering a sporting event. But it’s hard to find actual examples of really amazing things that happened solely due to competition. How exciting is it to come to work if the best you can do is trounce some other company that does roughly the same thing? That’s why most companies decay slowly over time. They tend to do approximately what they did before, with a few minor changes. It’s natural for people to want to work on things that they know aren’t going to fail. But incremental improvement is guaranteed to be obsolete over time. Especially in technology, where you know there’s going to be non-incremental change.

This is Larry’s nice way of saying that if you have all your people making minor improvements and responding to competitors, someone is going to come along and do something new and big and kick your butt.

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  1. Rahul July 12, 2013 at 9:36 am #

    I have to disagree, sorry. In some industries it might be the case that strictly focusing on competing rather than innovating is a bad choice. However to say that the competition is irrelevant is not true. Most free market entities need competition to help define the markets they’re in, so that they have something to invest in reaching out of. So it makes sense to look at how much the competitors are spending on R&D, what they are working on next, and how to drive your own R&D to BOTH win their market share, as well as make the market bigger or make new markets (after which you will need to watch how the competition follows you to the new markets, and how they compete).

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