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WAR (GAMES): WHAT ARE THEY GOOD FOR?

Insights from the Sixsense Team – Inspiring a different way of thinking.

As a Pharma strategy consultancy, we get client requests to do competitive war games at least 2-3 times per year.   In case you are not aware, competitive war games are facilitated events where cross-functional teams are asked to “step into the shoes” of their competitors in order to gain a deeper level of insight into the competitor’s thinking. The output of this exercise would lead to tactics used to limit any competitive gains or in common parlance – blunt the competition. These competitive war games requests usually happen when there is a perceived competitive threat and being on anything but high alert is not an option.

There is an underlying premise to competitive war games the way they are typically structured which is: If we are able to think like them, we’ll know what they are going to do, sometimes before they do it, and therefore we can do something pre-emptive. But the question is: How do you think like someone you’re not? In reality, you are more likely to project your own way of thinking onto your competitor under the illusion that you can know exactly how they think and what they’ll do by role-playing them. In this way, your pre-emptive tactics are more likely to “blunt” what you would have done yourself.

This isn’t to say that a deep understanding of your competition is wasted energy – it isn’t. When we work with clients, we help ensure that the focus of their strategy is developing an offer for their market that is too good to refuse. Their effort is centered on continually tightening the match between their offer (e.g. efficacy, safety, tolerability, cost, etc.) and the needs and motivations of their market (e.g. HCPs, Payers, Patients, etc). And because the goal of strategy is to have a tighter match than your competitors, it’s vitally important to know where your offering stands relative to theirs. But where you really want deep understanding is in getting at the needs and motivations of your customers – what their decision factors are, why they prescribe or don’t prescribe your product. This knowledge coupled with a great offering is where real competitive advantage lies and it’s not just an event but an ongoing part of the everyday job.