Keep up with the comps? Or create a new path?

Plenty of business travel = many hotel nights. One flag is much like the other and in fact, most times on check-in I forget which loyal customer card to pull out. Free WIFI, free bottled water, complimentary made-to-order breakfasts, free morning newspaper. Whatever it is, the hotel world suffers from the conspicuous competition.

It got worse a few years ago when every big brand jumped on the “save the environment” schtick. It seems each hotel branded their own version of their giving back program with a clever name and a promise they care about the good of the planet.
After spending a few days in San Francisco this week at the Pacific Coast Builders Conference (and earning another three nights’ of hotel stays!) I’m struck by the fact that home and community development share the same challenge as the hospitality world.
Too much time focused on the competition and what they are doing = “competitive myopia” (credit to Youngme Moon, author of Different). And nothing generates conformity quite as completely as a good comparable metric staring you in the face. When we spend too much time keeping up with the comps and looking over our shoulder at what they are doing we lose the point of it all, which is to create excitement, energy and sustainable meaningful moments of truth and delight that our customers can’t get anywhere else, or  from everyone else doing the same thing we do.
What’s the next big idea in home and community development? I’m not sure I heard it this week. I heard a lot of good variations on a theme. And I came back to my daily reality with the belief that there’s white space out there to be occupied by creative minds with the guts to take a risk and the follow through to deliver, and a renewed belief that we need to tear it all away.
Stop looking at each other. Start thinking like a discerning customer again. What would they like to see from our business? How would they like to be treated? What would we keep and what would we toss out from our business models today? Clearly, a few more hours of thought needs to go into this “how might we” …

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