Source: Inc.com | | March 23, 2019
You collaborate to discover, but compete to develop and build
Boeing and Airbus are arch rivals, competing vigorously over decades for supremacy in the global aviation market, much like DowDupont and BASF do in chemicals. Yet all of these companies, along with many others, collaborate at places like the Composites Institute (IACMI). They do this not out of any altruism, of course, but self-interest.
It is at places like the Composites Institute that profit-driven companies can explore the future with top notch scientists from places like Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Michigan State University and Purdue as well as dozens of smaller companies active in the space. To not participate would be to risk being cut out of important developments.
The Value Chain and Competitive Advantage
In Michael Porter’s landmark book, Competitive Advantage, the Harvard professor argued that the key to long-term success was to dominate the value chain by maximizing bargaining power among suppliers, customers, new market entrants and substitute goods. The goal was to create a sustainable competitive advantage your rivals couldn’t hope to match.
Porter’s ideas dominated thinking in corporate strategy for decades, yet they had a fatal flaw that wasn’t always obvious. Thinking in terms of value chains is viable when technology is relatively static, but when it advances rapidly it can get you locked out of important ecosystems and greatly diminish your ability to compete.
To thrive in an ecosystem driven world, you must constantly widen and deepen connections. Instead of always looking to maximize bargaining power, you need to look for opportunities to co-create with customers and suppliers, to integrate your products and services with potential substitutes and to form partnerships with new market entrants.