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Brain circuits

Changing strategies when you are late to the game

Published 26 October 2021 in Brain circuits • 3 min read

The difference between companies that thrive in times of crisis versus those who stagnate is tied to their ability to jump from one core competency to another as the business landscape shifts. This is something I refer to as a company’s ability to LEAP. But what do you do if you missed that next big thing and realize everything is changing and you are at risk of getting left behind? All is not lost, you just need to consider something that makes a lot of executives uncomfortable but can change everything.

Making frenemies

There are times when you need to compete, and there are times when you need to collaborate. This is one of the key managerial choices to make in a world of disruption. When a newcomer enters the market and is shaking up the industry, you need to ask yourself if you should be looking at them as competition, or would it be better to become partners.

If you can’t beat them, join them

There are times you can’t outcompete a potential threat to the market, even if you are dominant in the field. It may be better to look for ways to help each other.

An excellent example of this is Visa and Mastercard. When PayPal and other fintech disruptors entered the market, Visa and Mastercard realized they could not outcompete them, or it would be too late, so instead they formed partnerships, opening their infrastructure through APIs so that other fintech disruptors could use them. Now Google Pay, Apple Wallet, and PayPal are all using Visa and Mastercard’s technology. Even cryptocurrencies are working with Visa’s card infrastructure to be able to convert back to real money. As a result, the traditional credit card companies are now beating American Express, which failed to move early.

Making this sort of move requires tough managerial choices and is a bit too radical for some companies. But the ones who are brave enough to do it are the ones that will live to compete another day.



Howard Yu - IMD Professor

Howard H. Yu

LEGO® Chair Professor of Management and Innovation at IMD

Howard H Yu is the LEGO® Chair Professor of Management and Innovation at IMD and the Director of IMD’s Center for Future Readiness. He is the author of the award-winning book LEAP: How to Thrive in a World Where Everything Can Be Copied. Howard directs our Future Readiness Strategy and Business Growth Strategies programs.


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