‘Benchmarking’ is a well-known activity. From our youngest years we are taught to compare with others. It is by comparing that we are assigned a place. As we grow up, we are shown examples of performers by parents who constantly tell us to be at least as good if not better than them. When we land up in school, you hear ranking from the first grade in primary school. You are benchmarked based on your performance. As we grow through school the competitive environment forces us to compare and make adjustments / improvements to make headway. The same continues when we try to gain admission into colleges for graduate and postgraduate courses. Is it any different at work? If you have even moderate aspirations – you can’t avoid competition. Even in the so-called flat hierarchy organizations, it’s a pyramid. You compete to grow.
The same thinking is widely visible even amongst organizations and nations! What other reason could have made ‘competition’ as a subject so important to understand and learn. Even today we all compete. To compete you need benchmarks. You need statistics. You need averages. And so on…
In the realm of competitive growth, one can’t avoid benchmarking. But benchmarking also has a contradictory effect – namely increasing similarity. As the interest to benchmark increases, possibility of differentiation decreases. So called best practices spread across firms. Almost all players look alike! It is that rare firm that takes courageous steps to move out of the competitive arena to create fresh benchmark; that redefines the rules of the game all over again.
Every startup / entrepreneurial firm has the potential to be one such player. We need more entrepreneurism at the individual level, firm level, region level, societal level, and the national level and even at the international level. We need more enterprises that revel in experimentation. Any experiment requires courage to persevere. Does your startup have it?