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Benchmarking is an excuse for original thought: don't go there! By Roy Osing

Benchmarking has its roots in the Total Quality Management philosophy.

It's a technique aimed at taking advantage of what other organizations have learned and successfully implemented and improve their own performance.

The benchmarking process is simple: determine who is best in class at something and copy them. 

Benchmarking is usually aimed at a business process or operation. Go-to-market processes for products, order fulfillment and human resource practices are among the many organizational functions that get benchmarked.

Disguise it any way you want, but benchmarking is nothing more than following the leader of the herd. And if you're second in the pack, the view never changes.

Benchmarking is a "tool of sameness"; it adds nothing to the success and survival capabilities that organizations must develop in today's world of fickle customers, volatile economies and fierce competition.

I know that benchmarking is viewed as a necessary process for most organizations. But I have a major issue with it….
Copying sucks the life out of businesses; it is non-strategic and yet consumes a disproportionate amount of resource given the value it creates.

It lowers the bar and reduces everyone in the herd to the lowest common denominator. 

It perpetuates invisibility for herd members. The copiers remain unremarkable and continue to blend in with everyone else.

Copying doesn't make you stand-out, it makes you fit-in.

The real challenge in business today is to be able to clearly answer the question "Why should I do business with you and not the many others who are competing for my attention?" 

Benchmarking shows you are a follower and gives people ZERO reason why they should buy from you as opposed to someone else. 

We need to get our thinking straight. Uniqueness comes from looking to BE DiFFERENT, not copying what others do, even if they do it well.

It is time to change the best in class frame from "How can we be the same as the best?" to "How can we BE DiFFERENT from the best?"

And let's all agree that the question “How are we DiFFERENT?" should be the filter for determining what strategies are pursued and what strategies are deemed successful.

A new lexicon in our organizations is required to drive strategic thinking. Words and phrases like "contrary", "off-the-wall", "weird", "kinky", "crazy" 

“Here’s to the crazy ones”

There was only ONE Steve Jobs, but maybe, just maybe we can try to emulate the character that separated him from everyone else…

and "are you kidding me?" should guide us in determining our future direction and what we want to be when we grow up.

Put benchmarking where it belongs: a tool that might improve your operational performance from where it is today, but will NEVER make you special and remarkable in a market dominated by hungry competitors.

About Author

Roy Osing (@royosing) is a former President and CMO with over 33 years of leadership experience covering all the major business functions including business strategy, marketing, sales, customer service and people development. He is a blogger, content marketer, educator, coach, adviser and the author of the book series Be Different or Be Dead

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