Home Thinking Aloud Paranoia Check: The Playbook For Staying Focused

Paranoia Check: The Playbook For Staying Focused


By Pamela Springer, CEO of ORIS Intelligence

competition race

How much time do you spend worrying about your competition?  Are you constantly evaluating what they’re doing versus what you’re doing?  Part of this answer depends on how mature your business is and part of it depends on you.

It’s important to first recognize that competition validates a market.  It’s good to know that you’re not the only one thinking that this particular segment has an unsolved need. Assuming you’ve got healthy market dynamics, ask yourself how much influence you allow your competitors to have in what you do?  How much smarter do you think they are than you?  Do you believe they’ve really figured it out?

Paranoia can be a good trait in business to help keep you on your toes, but it’s crucial that you keep it in context. Instead of looking out, start by looking within to evaluate your company’s position and opportunity to stand out from the pack.

Build on your strengths, opportunities.

First and foremost, playing to your strengths and integrating your passion with market opportunities, should be the factors driving your playbook.  Keep in mind that your company has different strengths than your competitors.  The S and O quadrants from the tried and true SWOT analysis is a great place to start. Once you compile it, pay more attention to building on your strengths and matching those with the market opportunities.  Obviously, being mindful of weaknesses is important, but spending too much time focused on changing that part of the quadrant will prove counter-productive as typically it’s likely you won’t got those weakness improved anywhere near what your existing strengths are, plus it will take your mindshare away from the activities that will truly allow you to build a successful solution and business.

All businesses have strategies, budgets, resources and competitors – it’s the execution of these components that allow some to deliver more value than others. It’s not magic, but it can be magical when it all comes together.

Think your way through the playbook.

Early-stage companies need to define their niche in the market they serve and iterate, iterate, iterate until they’ve got a solution that delights their customer and can scale. Ultimately, their playbook is their own defined by their own abilities and read of the opportunity in front of them.  Competition plays a role here, but the new company has an opportunity to do something different than what’s already out there – so thinking different is a must.

Later-stage companies are in operating mode. They’ve most likely isolated their big disruptive innovations to certain parts of the company, while the balance of the organization is innovating in increments and running the core business.  The core business has competitors and needs to understand where those players are headed and how to continue to position the company to create maximum value.  It’s the larger more mature companies that many times have robust teams gathering information on their competitors.  This competitive information is critical, but potentially can fence in and reinforce “group think” versus disruptive thinking.

Approaching the market while leaning forward, and with eyes wide open, increases a company’s ability to attract the right talent. And ensures this talent will be building the right products using a strategy that reinforces your ability to deliver sustainable value.

Competitors come and go – but ultimately, they have nothing to do with your strengths, approach or ability to win at your own game.


pamela springer

Pamela Springer, CEO of ORIS Intelligence is a veteran executive with more than 20 years’ experience growing tech-based companies, including re-starts and IPOs, including building Manta Media into one of the largest, most trafficked websites in the US. She has raised more than $51M in venture capital and private equity, is passionate about building best-in-class teams, and is Franklin Covey-certified in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Currently, Pamela is an investor and CEO of the fast growing startup ORIS Intelligence.