Cannibals Prefer Those with No Spine

How many days have there been in the past year that you did not have thoughts about competitors and/or competition? If you are in business, I suspect not very many. Why do we spend time and energy thinking about competitors? One of the most frequently cited reasons is that we are afraid if we ignore our competitors they will eat…. our case. As we (some) Southerners would say, “they will eat us alive.” While perhaps not a very pleasant connotation, the metaphor seems to fit today’s business climate a bit too well for comfort.

How do we make ourselves more impervious to the voracious appetites of our competitors? One way is to be sure your business culture is one with a spine that is present, straight and strong. It is the spine of the business culture that allows a business to stand tall. Unless they also have a culture with a spine, we will stand shoulders over our competitors. How do we know if we have a strong cultural spine? Answer a few simple questions.

Does everyone in the company know who we are? What do we value…truly value? What do we detest…really detest? What are our dreams? Do we understand how to get from here to there? In 15 seconds or less, can every employee articulate what sets us apart from everyone else in the world? Is everyone in the business able and willing to tell everyone else in the business, “That is not how we do things. That is not how we behave. You are out of line?” 

The answers to these questions will tell you whether your business has a culture with a spine—and perhaps how appetizing you look to your competitors.


Patrick McNees

Managing Partner
Health and Life Science
Kirchner Private Capital Group

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