When considering your organization’s strategies, it is useful to begin at the beginning: what industry are you in?
From there, it becomes possible to define your most direct competitors. That shouldn’t be difficult, and as a result, it might not give you much of a longterm advantage. Perhaps more interesting, and more advantageous, is to seek to identify competitors that your entire industry might not see coming (or might not even see as competitors if they did see them coming). So sure, you’re competing against company or school B and C . . . but it’s also true that you + company / school B + company / school C are all, together, competing against _________. If it wins, then you all lose.
Here’s a nice applied example from Will Page in the August 13 FT Weekend:
Consider the enlightening story of American football team the Atlanta Falcons, who took the bold decision of improving the quality of catering inside their glitzy new stadium while slashing prices. On-the-night spend . . . went up 16 per cent. They identified competition at home — a 72-inch smart television, say — and outside too, in the US culture of tailgating, where sports fans drink beer and barbecue food by the backs of their cars in stadium car parks. The Falcons realised they were competing for attention on and off the pitch.
What’s your industry’s version of the 72-inch smart screen and the culture of tailgating? (One easy answer is that we’re likely all competing against the former in one way or another.)