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When Competitors Become Sources of Innovation

As the saying goes, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” Well, this could be very true when it comes to innovation. In today’s business environment, competitor alliances seem to be in vogue and are a way for companies to lessen their risk and reduce costs.

In part four of the Forbes magazine series on types of innovation models, competitor innovation is considered “coopetition” and should be considered a component in the innovation process. Several examples are mentioned to highlight the value these strategic alliances have brought to fierce competitors such as Ford and General Motors, and Boeing and Lockheed Martin. Without these collaborative efforts, these companies may not have been able to be as innovative as if they acted on their own. As stated in the article, “Both of these companies could have tried to do this independently, but the risk would have been far greater, the costs much higher, and the time to market much longer.”

While the outcome may be a win-win for both parties involved, the road to getting there is not without its challenges. Distrust and conflict may arise if there is not a clear understanding of what each company will bring to the table, and how the new product or service will be utilized by each partner.

Overall, “coopetition” can lead to success and enhance the capacity to learn and innovate. So the next time there is an opportunity to battle it out with a competitor, the best approach may be to innovate together.