Lindsay’s In Business: PART 52:  OMG – a competitor

white and black chessboard with pieces

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What happens when you realise your path is entrepreneurship rather than employment? Lindsay takes up the challenge and shares an account of her journey as it unfolds…

The business renovation is going great.  I’ve found someone to draft client terms and conditions, and two practicing lawyers to review them.  Actually, I’m on the train to Amsterdam right now (on one of the Netherland’s hottest days yet) to brief the second lawyer. I hope she might be our (informal) legal counsel going forwards.

By the way, I don’t expect ever to take anyone to court about this business – after all the IP, as I gather, is only worth its value to our clients.  It could be reproduced without much hope of any successful legal action, even if we did know it was happening.  And I don’t see any clear liabilities arising from alignment work. But terms and conditions can at least set the tone, set expectations, and set clear boundaries with potential clients and partners.

In terms of positioning, having worked with a freelancer for 10 hours, I’ve upgraded the key messages and all outward facing materials (see footer sentence on this blog for the main WHAT and USP).   Tick!

The reporting tool V5 is coming on well and so is the development of what is included as part of our licensing offer. As we’ll be developing the online V6 reporting tool almost immediately (V5 will serve us for the rest of the year and act as part of the specification for V6), we are able to add in new requirements for V6 around aggregating data for multiple teams to build Mirror Mirror into an organization-wide offer.

In the past, when someone has said “It’s easy for this to be perceived as just another one of those teamwork interventions” I’ve been defensive. That’s what I’ve been trying to communicate in the messaging for so long!  Mirror Mirror is fundamentally NOT just another teamwork intervention! Searches for the past 2 years have not turned up any other tool that takes the same approach:  developing shared cognition to improve effectiveness in teams.  I have been relaxed, safe in the knowledge that what we’re doing is innovative and original.  And I love that – it’s about being the first, pioneering, setting a new vision.

Then when someone says, “I know another tool just like this”, my stomach tenses up and I immediately go to find the website and scour it for differences.

The Performance Climate Systemwas cited.  “This is exactly the same” they said. But it’s not. It’s more about improving team effectiveness by measuring actual performance. We don’t even touch performance measurement. It’s not relevant to improving alignment.

The Team Health Checkwas raised as a competitor.  “It’s the same thing – asking questions and producing a report” they said. But it’s not. It’s a more prescribed general review of what is working and what’s not working within a team. It’s not focused on improving alignment as we are.

The Rocket Modelwas raised as a similar model early on – but again this prescribes what a team needs, so is a consulting approach based on making recommendations. Mirror Mirror is completely objective and only facilitates teams in addressing what emerges from the participants.

Being defensive, however, is illogical because if indeed something very similar were to come up, it would simply:

  1. Confirm we’re on the right lines
  2. Promote the approach we are selling
  3. Give us some benchmarks – How are they doing? How are they marketing? etc.

Last week I went for a coffee with a freelance HR consultant (friend of a friend).  We’d been trying to set something up for a while and there it was in my agenda.  I was a bit reluctant to go, to be honest. After all I’ve got my focus and my to-do list. So often these introductory coffee chats don’t really go anywhere. I’d kind of had enough of those. But I went along anyway.  And it was well worthwhile. We spoke about a couple of partners she could introduce me to, about a client she’s working with right now who could use it later in the year. Then she said, “I know an organization doing this”.

Yeah, yeah. I doubted, flippantly. But she gave me the name and I looked it up.  “I don’t know how focused they are on sales and marketing”, she added.

We collected follow up notes and finished the chat. I went home, with that tightening stomach feeling, and looked up this ‘competitor’ straight away. My reactions:

  • God, what a badly written website
  • They’re coming from a top down strategic alignment approach – that’s different.
  • But there it was: “The diagnostic outcome is presented in a visual and easy-to-grasp format that literally speaks for itself: metaphoric pictures that clearly and unambiguously communicate the (mis)alignment.” They are doing the same thing – organization wide!!!
  • But is there a difference? We’re on social alignment, they’re on strategic alignment. And they’ve been going for 10 years.What have they been doing for all that time?!  I’ve never heard of them, and they’re in the Netherlands!
  • What’s their process? I looked through the site but found nothing concrete about their methodology – but lots of concrete stuff about research…  it looks credible.
  • They’ve got a big team. They’re further ahead of us….We have a real competitor.

Within a day I had removed our process description from all materials. Good idea – don’t tell people how it works, leave them wondering so they come to you for information.  Again, I gave myself a forgiving kick for not having done this before.

Taking a step back, I know Mirror Mirror isn’t threatened.  But for the first time it feels like we have a competitor threat.  It actually feels like I’m in a cave and there’s a tiger outside.

I spoke to my advisor / colleague, who is great at stuff like this. She confirmed their top down approach as being akin to the kind of vision we’d had for our organization-wide offer.  But there’s something about their top-down approach that feels different. Does everyone in an organization align on a cognitive level after their intervention?

Mirror Mirror now seems very detailed, very low level, very thorough in comparison.  Over-thorough?  This all adds to thought progression around V6.

 

Mirror Mirror is a data-driven alignment process that accelerates effectiveness, team by team. It is the quickest and most cost-efficient way to leverage the collective ability of your people.

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

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