Benchmarking is not strategy

Why do people benchmark their efforts against others?  Mostly to feel safe that they’re doing the same or better than their competitors.

That’s a poor substitute for strategy.

I’ve written before about Realized Strategy – what you actually did, not what you planned to do.  The problem is that when you benchmark, it’s tempting to push your realized strategy towards a common theme adopted by your competitors.

You converge with them.

However, you’re not converging on the optimal solutions for customers, the most profitable area of business for your company or any other strategic optimum.  You’re just converging on the safest direction as identified by an amorphous group of competitors.

This is clearly not going to differentiate you in the market.

The same applies to IP Strategy – in many ways it’s a new area, and so it makes sense to take a look at what others are doing.  However, it makes no sense at all to be benchmarking in such a way that you inevitably follow what is today’s ‘best practice’ irrespective of whether it fits your strategic imperatives.  (On this particular point, have a look at McKinsey’s recent article – ‘Why best practice isn’t the best strategy.’)

Image credit: CarbonNYC

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