I’m coaching/advising a couple of people on two completely different, but just as important, things. One is competitive strategy, and another is on social media. Recently, both asked me the same question: What if I’m associated with a business/institution I might end up competing with? Shouldn’t I let them know what I’m thinking of doing?
If you think it sucks, make it better
Whether you tell them or not, if you feel that someone isn’t doing a great job at solving the problem, you don’t need permission to try and do it better. If you believe that you can make a difference, go ahead and do something. Everyone will better for it, including your associates/partners.
When we think about obstacles to innovation within businesses, seeking permission to “make it better” is a common issue. Because harmony is preferred over dissent, no one wants to step on anybody’s toes . But, a culture of “make it better” needs both harmony and dissent. If all people do is agree with each other, you won’t get anywhere new. When this happens, it is good opportunity to ask yourself what people really care about. Do they care about playing nice with everyone? Do they care about the problem you are solving?
Also, there are multiple ways of winning. Just because there other people and or businesses, you are associated with, that are in the business you are entering, doesn’t mean you can’t try to do it differently. It is a better approach to rethink it, than to simply follow their lead and copy what they are doing.
Entering occupied markets is business-as-usual in business. Sometimes it is for reactive reasons (Google+), but other times it is because somebody thinks they have a better approach (iPhone). The key, of course, is having a better approach than what currently exists.
Bottom line: If you think you can make it better, do it.