Stop Benchmarking

November 5, 2010 § 6 Comments

Before you crucify me, please hear me out.  You might be a fanatic of benchmarking, so this post may not be for you.  But don’t stop reading because it is also possible that this post is exactly for you.

Benchmarking answers three questions: (1) Who’s the best out there?, (2) How good are they? and, (3) How can we be as good as them?

Like most, I have applied benchmarking.  It feels natural.  Find the best and make the best the standard.

For many start up companies, benchmarking seems to be a really good guide so I will not condemn you if you want to copy what works for others.  And this approach has worked for many new entrepreneurs in terms of getting started and getting somewhere.

The chances are good that you will reach certain goals with benchmarking.  But here is the limitation.  There is one goal that you will never reach with this strategy.  And that is, to beat the best.

If you benchmark on another company’s standards, you might be able to achieve where they are in a year or two.  But after two years of chasing, or by the time you reach their admirable standards, they would have moved on, which means, you would still be behind.

If the company you are benchmarking is truly the best, I would assume that they will keep improving their standards, services, products, or processes.  As a benchmarker, you will keep following.  And that will be your future.  You will keep following the leader, but you will not be the leader.

Again, I do not condemn you.  Copying after all is easier than real thinking.

The opposite school of thought is “never benchmark!”  Do not compete directly.   Change the game from the start.  Design your venture into a new category.  This takes creativity and imagination. I believe that if you have the creativity and the guts, do not copy, not even from the start, “never benchmark.”

Another school of thought is to copy some, or copy to a certain level, but change the game at a certain point.  The motto is, “apply benchmarking for a while”, but at the soonest, “Stop Benchmarking.”  This strategy tries to get the hang of how things work at first, then innovate the process, service, product or model at a certain point.

If you do not want your company to be branded as the copy or imitation of another company, begin with the target customers in mind, not the market leader.

“Set your course by the stars, not by the lights of every passing ship.”- Gen. Omar Bradley.

If you want to be perceived as unique, a company who delivers what the other companies do not, never make benchmarking your main strategy, make customer-centric innovation your main strategy.

Focus innovation on what the customers want, or might want, and address it.  Ask the questions:  (1) Who are my target customers?, (2) What do they want that is under served? and, (3) How can I deliver that?

© Ed Pilapil Jr.  2010


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§ 6 Responses to Stop Benchmarking

  • PHILIPP INNO says:

    Sir Ed, may you allow me to play as devil’s advocate?

    I love benchmarking!

    But never in the same industry where my start-up businesses are.

    I wisely and smartly benchmark in other cool industries.

    My basic background, design (architecture) and building industries.

    But I never benchmark at any Architectural Firm or Construction Company.

    In fact, I am seldom impressed with any local Architect, even international.

    Same with most construction and real estate development firms, I see them boring.

    They are too conventional; most still operate on the passé Industrial Age paradigm.

    I love benchmarking – but I benchmark in other industries such as the Computer Industry and Transportation Industry. Among my top Virtual Mentors are Steve Jobs (Apple Computers, Pixar) and Elon Musk (Electric Sports Car TESLA Motors, Space eXploration, Solar City). My plans and strategies, business models, supply and demand chain systems, etc., are inspired by these indirect industries. For me, they serve as the quintessentials or exemplars of wildly cool and insanely great gigs.

    And one more thing… I love benchmarking at STARK Industries, he,he…
    Because I always imagine myself as Tony Stark, the Invincible IRONMAN!

    Hence, I love benchmarking! ♥

  • Of course Phillip, you may play the devil’s advocate 🙂

    As I said, “Another school of thought is to copy some, or copy to a certain level, but change the game at a certain point.”

    Your approach is another branch, which is, benchmark from other industries but do not benchmark in your own. I am cool with that.

    You apply selective benchmarking.

  • PHILIPP INNO says:

    You really are an Entrepreneur Coach… Thanks a lot Sir Ed! 😉

    Re: “Focus innovation on what the customers want, or might want, and address it.”

    I agree 100% – we also make customer-centric innovation as our driving strategy.

    On our businesses that render more on services, yeah, we focus innovation on what the customers want, or even need. But with our most favorite business (that provides technology products), we focus innovation on what customers might want. We dare to touch our customers’ most probable dreams or fantasies! It excites us more and brings out our burning passion to the extreme! We offer something really newnique!

    Benchmarking from the Transportation Industry Revolutionary, Henry Ford:

    “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

    And, benchmarking from the Computer Industry Revolutionary, Steve Jobs:

    “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” 🙂

  • Good citations Philipp.

    Both Henry Ford and Steve Jobs created their own standards instead of chasing the standards of their competitors or even their customers.

    Otherwise, their products would have looked ordinary 🙂

  • PHILIPP INNO says:

    That is just simply why I consider them as my Virtual Mentors and love benchmarking on the industries they revolutionized. 😉

    At BLOC, we are not just revolutionizing an existing industry… We are attempting to create a whole new industry… A new industry that will also create new businesses, new products, new services, new after market products and services, new jobs, new livelihood… and hopefully help our beloved country to finally thrive.

    “Don’t just think outside the box. If you can, create an entirely new box!”
    – The BLOC Revolution

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