Don't Compete On The Same Strengths

David and Goliath


This is another point I learned from Good Strategy, Bad Strategy.

Gaming example

Lets imagine there’s a big game company, making console games. Their strength is making games for consoles. They’ve probably been doing it for a while, and have gotten really good at it. For a new company to come along and try and compete against those strengths would probably be a mistake.

Instead, if they built a game company focused around social or mobile, they’d be building up their own asymmetric strengths. This avoids an arms race in which the new company tries to build competencies in console games - an arms race they will probably lose.

This seems obvious, but in reality it often isn’t.

RPG analogy

Imagine you’re playing a RPG video game where the opponent has strong armour. You get a good gun to penetrate the armour. They upgrade their armour. So you get a better gun. And so on. You don’t stop to think that maybe you should try a different strategy - like being faster, or exploiting some other weakness.


It’s the interplay of strengths and weaknesses which determines competitive strength, not one metric alone.