Tour de France Cycling Strategies Also Witnessed in Business
In watching the 2011 Tour de France we noted quite a few breakaways in the longer races in the early stages, especially during the relatively flat stage courses. In these breakaways we would often see some of the leading teams have at least one of their riders follow the breakaway. Even though most of the major teams in the Pelaton were quite aware that they would eventually catch the breakaway towards the end of the race.
Often we would see members of the breakaway group with certain rider who wouldn’t pull their weight and spent less time up at the front blocking the wind, sometimes as much as 15 to 20% less time in the front. We all know that it takes 30% more energy to break the wind than it does to ride in the slipstream of another rider, or several other riders.
It appears to be an obvious tactic if you are on one of the main teams to at least put one of your riders out there in the lead group to monitor what’s going on, and to either slow down the group by setting the pace a little slower while in the front, or convincing the other writers that they will be caught soon, thus reeling them back into the Pelaton.
In business there are similar tactics when one company comes out with a new innovation. Another company pretends to follow, as the rest of the industry holds back. It takes a lot to introduce a new product, or change the method of your business model in the marketplace. It costs lots of money, and it takes lots of energy. This is because you must re-educate your consumer and customer as to new products and services that you are offering in a unique and different way. Perhaps you are bundling products together and your competitors aren’t.
These strategies may win or fail on their own, but if they happen to succeed every company wants at least one of their business units hot on the trail of the breakaway group. They may work to see the demise of the new strategy, or try to control the breakaway’s innovation, watching it, studying it, and then understanding it in order to lobby new rules and regulations upon it. It’s all about control.
Perhaps you’ve heard that famous quote by Motley Fools; “There Are Rule Makers and Rule Breakers,” and in the beginning those who break from the industry in the breakaway and pull away are generally working in areas where there are no regulations, or in a Pelaton to control their activities. If they tend to get out in front, and start leading, then they start making their own rules.
In other words, they try to enforce the other riders to work with them, and the other companies to accept their new business method or style. Then they try to ride that new business model into the victory lane for increase shareholder’s equity and quarterly profits. Indeed, in the end it’s a very similar strategy when you look at it more abstractly.
Isn’t it interesting how you can see things in bicycle races which relate to competitive strategic advantages in the world of business? Indeed I hope you will please consider all this and think on it.