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Article: Competitor Analysis

Red teamers will want to read Coyne and Horn’s article “Predicting Your Competitor’s Reaction” in the April 2009 Harvard Business Review. Although the authors use the term competitor analysis instead of red teaming, they are describing the same activity.
      Coyne and Horn highlight a 2008 McKinsey and Company survey in which senior managers were asked to assess how they respond to competitors’ moves. The results are surprising. In many cases the managers weren’t aware of their competitors’ moves, and in other cases they simply chose not to respond. Also of interest was the fact that most managers surveyed considered a limited number of countermoves—between two and three.
      The survey results appear to support the authors’ three-question framework for analysis:

  • “Will the competitor react at all?”
  • “What options will the competitor actively consider?”
  • “Which option will the competitor most likely choose?”

Coyne and Horn’s approach is a straightforward, 80-percent solution to real-world challenges. While it is probably most appropriate for the business community, defense and security red teamers should take note: extreme analytical complexity—though impressive on paper—may often be overkill in practice.