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Invented competitors: a new competitor analysis methodology

Liam Fahey (Internationally recognized as a leading consultant on competitor analysis, competitive strategy, strategic marketing, and scenario learning ( Of the seven books he has published on these topics, his three most recent are: Learning from the Future (1998), Competitors: Outwitting, Outmaneuvering and Outperforming (1999), and The Portable MBA in Strategy, 2nd ed. (2001). Based in Needham, Massachusetts, he is an adjunct professor of strategic management at Babson College and a visiting professor of strategic management at Cranfield School of Management in the UK.)

Strategy & Leadership

ISSN: 1087-8572

Article publication date: 1 December 2002



If your company develops and tests strategies to outmaneuver the competition, do you fall into the trap of focusing on just traditional rivals, or worst, on just their historic strategies? To avoid this danger, use an innovative approach that several leading companies have adopted: create an “invented” competitor and then consider what type of strategy the invented competitor might employ. Using “invented competitors” opens up a view into the future that is likely to challenge the preconceptions and obsessions of your current worldview. This approach can identify new business opportunities and surface limitations and vulnerabilities in your company’s current strategies and operations. For a number of leading organizations, the invented competitor is proving to be a spur to bold and innovative thinking. An invented competitor is a rival that could exist some time in the future and has two related features that current rivals do not have: unique marketplace strategy and organizational configuration (two examples: a different network of relationships or value chain structure). Invented competitors help managers to reflect about the future in novel and insightful ways. Although the process of inventing a competitor varies, depending upon the context and purpose, it typically has five elements: how the competitor might come to be; what its strategy might be; how it might execute its strategy; why it might win or fail; and the strategy implications for our firm.



Fahey, L. (2002), "Invented competitors: a new competitor analysis methodology", Strategy & Leadership, Vol. 30 No. 6, pp. 5-12.




Copyright © 2002, Authors

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