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NASSCOM 2008 - Outsmarting the Competition news
15 February 2008

The afternoon session kicked off, with a presentation by James (Jim) Champy, chairman, Perot Systems Corporation. Jim has written four books earlier, and his fifth book, which will be released this month, is based on how some companies have thought out of the bubble, and emerged victorious. He gives us a sneak preview on his book, and elaborates on "Outsmarting the Competition".

With the appreciation of the rupee, growth in the wage rates, expected reduction in the growth rate in this year, the sub prime crisis, amongst other issues, that occupy top slot in our minds, what seems to have been forgotten is - the importance of competition.

He drove home his point on outsmarting competition with the following anecdote:
In a small town, somewhere in the US, there was a man, who started a hair-cutting salon. He was wise enough to realise the demand, and since he was the only player in the market, he charged a whopping $20 per haircut. His business flourished, and this went on for six months. He became well known for his trade and was soon regarded as one of the best in business.

But this was not to last. After six months, another hair cutting salon cropped up, exactly opposite the first salon, and charged only $10 per haircut. Needless to say, his (the first salon owner's) business dwindled, and slowly he lost all his customers to the other salon.

He was distraught, and he badly wanted to get back his business. He could not reduce the cost, as he had to pay for his employees and he could not compromise on his margins. He then approached a consultant, who gave him an idea to win back his customers. He put up a board in front of his salon, and soon, he got back all his business soon.

The board read - "We set right all $10-haircuts"

What he did here, was to think differently and outsmart the competition.

James Champy provided his thoughts on outsmarting competition. Champy believes, that there is not much new in management, but there is a lot new in business. So how do companies outsmart competition?

Smart companies find opportunity. They find it where others have not.
They compete by:

  • seeing what others have not seen
  • thinking outside the box - break existing rules and paradigms
  • using all they know - get back to their basics, and do known things well
  • changing their frame of reference - changing their thinking
  • doing things themselves - outsourcing is not the only option
  • tapping success of others
  • creating order out of chaos
  • simplifying complexity

Champy goes on further to state, that leadership in companies is the key to success. The key attributes of a leader of a smart company are:

  • One who is inspired and also inspires others
  • One who is open, transparent and vulnerable (prepared to be proven wrong and ready to change course)
  • Leaders sense no risk - there is a "just-do-it" sensibility

So to sum up, how does a smart company behave? What are its key ingredients to success?
Champy's final comments on this give rise to newer thoughts, and a newer direction to think in - 

  • Ambition matters
  • Intuition reigns
  • Focus prevails (high focus within their markets)
  • Customers rule (they drive the focus)
  • Calm enables
  • Innovation is a part of their culture
  • Culture driven behaviour (fewer rules and fewer checks)
  • Everyone plays

Champy inputs should enable most companies to outsmart their competition, and raise the bar for other companies.


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NASSCOM 2008 - Outsmarting the Competition