Landscape Analysis, Competitor Analysis, Benchmarking. Organizations of all types carry out these activities from time to time.
Landscape Analysis is the broadest of these activities and can include both Competitor Analysis and Benchmarking. It may also include a Needs Assessment, Stakeholder Input, and Environmental Data Collection – often looking at PESTLE aspects of the environment: Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal, Environmental. The purpose of this analysis is to stay current on trends and identify possible shifts in the Landscape that may require a Strategic response.
Competitor Analysis is focused on an organization’s main competitors. Corporations typically focus on competitors for similar products that they sell, and sometimes substitutes as well. Nonprofits look at organizations which provide the same types of services, but also at the types of services their key donors fund. They may also look at competitors for Staff, Board Members, and Volunteers. This type of analysis is usually done more frequently than a full Landscape Analysis. Many companies, for example, will monitor competitor prices in real time.
Benchmarking involves identifying and studying comparable organizations that are highly regarded and/or peers. Organizations will typically seek to emulate the “best in class.”
It is a good idea to carry out all three of these activities, especially during a strategic planning process. However, here are the ways that Benchmarking can be improved:
*Cast a wider net. Look beyond key competitors and the most popular choices. Scour the world to identify the organizations that are the most innovative in your industry. Ask others in your same industry who they think are the unsung innovators.
*Don’t copy others. If you do this, you will always be behind. The best keep innovating. See what you can learn about what others are doing. Take their ideas and figure out how to make them even better.
*Look under the hood. Look at details. What is really making this organization so successful? Look beyond price and product features. What is the culture like? How do they do their hiring? What leadership principles are they following? Much of innovation is due to excellent implementation.
Keep your eyes open. Once upon at time Circuit City was thought to be one of the best companies in the world. They were heralded in the book, Good to Great – but now no longer exist. One of their former CEOs wrote a book called Good to Great to Gone – that tells the story of how the Circuit City leaders ignored the competitive environment after he had left the company.
Change is coming. We need to stay aware and innovative in order to make the best Mission Impact possible.