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Competition at Work

How Lean Principles Can Help

When you hear the term ‘competition’, you mind likely immediately pictures two companies competing for market share.

  • Google and Microsoft locked in an epic battle.
  • Oil companies fighting over drilling rights.
  • Car dealers offering ever-sweeter incentives.

But that’s only part of the competition at work you are likely involved in. You are also competing with your coworkers. In some cases it is for promotions and raises. Other times it can be for choice assignments or even for the right to keep your job.

You also in competition at work with another person: your boss. He always wants more out of you–you want to keep your life at a manageable pace.

But the competition at work around you goes even deeper. Your kids are competing with your boss. They want you at home early to play catch in the front yard. Your boss wants you working late to wrap up a big project.

Add in the organizations you belong to, spouses, managers battling over turf and budgets, businesses wanting you as a customer, hobbies, chores, and friends, and you are in the middle of a tornado. There is not enough of you to go around.

And isn’t that really what all this competition at work really comes down to? It’s a battle for limited resources, and your resources are time, energy, and money.

So what is there to be done about it?

There are several strategies you can use, and they all come back to your problem solving and continuous improvement skills.

  1. Figure out how to win. Make your skills better than those around you so you come out on top.
  2. Change the game. If you are having a hard time fighting it out as a landscaper, maybe you can switch to selling mulch.
  3. Outsource. This is based on two principles. One is that people specialize. That gardener mentioned above can probably get my lawn groomed in half the time I could do it myself. The second principle is that one of your resources is more valuable to you than another. If you hire a gardener, time is more important than money.
  4. Eliminate the competition. No, this isn’t a Soprano’s-like suggestion. Just simplify. If you have too many hobbies, get rid of one, or downsize to a smaller home if you are spending too much time and money on it. Also, avoid taking on new responsibilities when you are already swamped.
  5. Find common ground. Teaming up always helps with competition. Sometimes when you join forces, you can come out way ahead.
  6. Streamline. Find a way to make your tasks go quicker, so the demands for your scarce resources get lower.

Above all, prioritize what is important to you, define the principles you want to live by, and set goals. That way, when there is competition at work for your scarce resources, you will know how spend them. 


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