Dinosaurs and mammals: do the ‘big guys’ even matter?

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Picture 24During my work life, first in the software industry, next in the publishing industry, and finally in online recruiting, I’ve noticed some ongoing behavioral characteristics that seem to cut across many types of business. For example, there are always the “big competitors” at the top of the business sector.

For me, it was once Microsoft, then later United News and Media, and still later Monster, LinkedIn, and Career Builder. These top-of-the-heap industry leaders are focused upon obsessively by everyone in the industry; what did they just do? What will they do next? Predictable, and in many respects, pretty boring.

After a few years, I began wondering: does it really matter if Microsoft introduces the XYZ initiative? Does it really matter if Monster purchases this or that company? What actual effect do the actions of the dinosaurs have on us – the tiny, darting mammals simply trying to survive?

My conclusion? Not much.

Sure, if one of those dinosaurs come crashing down upon you, you’re probably toast. And if one of those dinosaurs decides to start using your front yard for its latrine, you gotta move.

But for most of us, the actions, reactions, and general silliness of the “big guys” really doesn’t have a lot of direct effect on us. Instead, they keep the industry press occupied, VC firms interested, and – let’s be honest – take a chunk of the available dollars.

You could argue that the dinosaurs end up describing the general framework in which the rest of us work. But even that’s not quite accurate – many of us end up changing the market through our own innovations, expansions, and successes. Maybe we get gobbled up by a dinosaur. Sometimes that happens.

But I would argue that excessive focus on the machinations of the dinosaurs is ultimately a waste of your time. Instead, focus on what your customers want, what your own products can and should be doing, and what your real competitors are doing.

Oh yes – don’t forget to duck!

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