The Distraction of Perceived Competition

Competition versus Perceived Competition

  • Did you see what ____ is doing?
  • Did you see what ____ had on their blog?
  • I heard ____ is going to do ______ next year. Wow. Total game changer.
  • _____ is kicking butt with ______.

If you are in leadership, any kind of leadership, you hear this stuff all the time. 

I catch myself going there from time-to-time. And I’ve learned that it’s nothing more than a big, fat distraction.

The reality is that very few people I know are in actual competition with people whom they’d label as “competition” to their organization. There are very few Coke versus Pepsi competitions out there as very few things are as simple as picking a bottle of one or the other from a grocery store shelf.

Perceived Competition

In reality, most of the time when we hear those phrases we feel something we mislabel as competition which is actually perceived competition.

Why is that? Because it’s not like organizations have the market saturation of Coke & Pepsi, where billions of people are aware of the products they offer and the different companies.

Don’t fool yourself! For the vast majority of organizations the issue isn’t people picking Service A or Service B.

  • Churches reach less than 10% of the population in most communities, so churches don’t compete with other churches!
  • Youth groups are the same way, there’s virtually a limitless supply of unreached students who aren’t coming to youth group because they haven’t heard of you, not because they go to another church or YoungLife or are on the soccer team.
  • The Salvation Army doesn’t compete with Goodwill for clothing donations because there’s virtually an unlimited supply of full closets in America.
  • A products¬†The Youth Cartel produces doesn’t compete against products of ReThink, or Simply Youth Ministry, or Youth Specialties produces because combined we reach so little of the known youth ministry market.

For all of those things there is a perception of competition. But in day-to-day reality the problem with any organization outside of a select few brands in the world is…

It’s about reach & like

Reach – That’s a simple term meaning, “Do people know you exist?” I bump into people all the time who haven’t heard of WordPress or MailChimp or Evernote or never seen an iPhone 5. Seriously, there are so many people on this planet that your organization is foolish to focus on perceived competition when you should be focused on developing reach.¬†

As an organizational leader I can’t focus on competition because my issue isn’t what “they” are doing, it has to be on expanding my reach.

Like – We live in a like society. I talk about things I like. I don’t talk about things I don’t like. I use things I like. I go places I like, have friends I like, eat foods I like. And because I have a million choices I don’t do things I don’t like. For example, I blab all over Twitter about my love of Southwest Airlines. But this year I’ve flown on United and US Airways way more than Southwest. Why do I talk about Southwest a lot and never about the others? Because I like Southwest.

As an organizational leader, I can’t do anything about people liking or disliking someone else’s thing. But I can definitely impact developing systems and things that people like in my own organization. (And people will like you better if it’s clear you like what you are doing. Duh!)

The Bottom Line

For me, what I’ve learned, is that everything changes when I stop looking at organizations as competition and start looking at them as compatriots and partners.

By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in the San Diego neighborhood of Rolando with their three children.

One reply on “The Distraction of Perceived Competition”

Seriously great article Adam. There is so much truth to this “perceived competition”, it often gets people down, discourages them, makes them worry, etc…

As someone who looks to plant a church in the near future, I so get this. Some of the churches I have come into contact with have this perception that another church would do them harm, as if reaching 4% of the population of the community was more than good enough, and a job the current amount of churches is capable of reaching (not to mention discipling).

The fact is that the Kingdom of God is equipped in such a way that we need to be working together to fully minister to all peoples. Screw the competition aspect. Work together. Accomplish HIS work, in your own called way.

Again, great read. Press on!

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