Compare notes with a competitor

When I was working at Yahoo in the mid-2000s, there was little if any teaming up with Google going on.

Google was doing unique things in search, human resources, marketing, social responsibility and industry education.

We were focused on beating them, not learning from them. Our CEO at the time, Terry Semel, thought that we spent too much time hating on Google and too little time studying and trying to adopt their innovations.

During a meeting in 2004, where one Yahoo exec venemously denied that a Google innovation was worthy of adoption/replication by Yahoo, Semel remarked, “you cannot hate Google enough to improve the user experience by one percent!”

This is a paradigm shift. If you love your customers, focus on them, not your competitors. If one of your rivals has a breakthrough that is good for the industry, contact them and compare notes. Create a cooperative alliance to find out how the two of you can accomplish synergy and move the industry forward.

This is especially true with humanitarian efforts, like employee relations or environmental sustainability. There is no reason that your competitor wouldn’t share information in these areas.

This concept is called coopetition, and is practiced in the airline industry when it is time to negotiate with the airplane manufacturers. By joining forces with each other, airlines have better negotiating power for terms, price, etc.

Recommended read: Co-opetition by Adam Brandenburger and Barry Nalebuff