So you have (or are) competition

· Around 6 minutes

🧪 This post is a sort of weird living document of sorts

To be honest, I got kind of lazy towards the end so I’m pushing out what I wrote.

That said, I also intend to add to the list of bullet points as time goes on. I will probably never update this post but maybe I’ll revisit the idea in future, I dunno.

It’s the sort of post that is harder to capture the further away you are from the situation in question!

Generally on this site I have two types of posts: Relatively straight forward technical posts and long-winded, more experimental posts that I would just link to myself in the past if time travel existed.

This post is heavily one of the latter and it revolved around a certain type of unintentional competition.

Specifically, it’s targeted at an awkward gap at which I, and I’m sure many of us, have fallen into from time to time which I’ll define in a moment.

In particular, these are scenarios I’ve encountered in a work setting but I suppose they could apply just as equally in any sort of community from friend groups to event committees.

I wouldn’t know but I’ll try to keep this whole thing general enough so as to leave it open for your own interpretation.

I’ll probably also make this a “living document” that I add things to as I think of them. It’ll be pretty messy.

The twin scenarios

a) You have just created and launched something into the wild, only to find that someone else in your area is already invested in that problem domain.

b) Someone else has just created and launched something into the wild, which you have just discovered and you aren’t sure how to feel about it

These two scenarios are the same scenario, just from different angles. Personally, I’ve both caused Scenario A and felt the effects of Scenario B. I’ve even experienced both A and B for the same problem domain within the same year, which felt a bit like karma funnily enough!

These scenarios happen all the time for everything I’m sure and neither side can feel pleasant. Emotions get heated, people get protective of “their” domains that they’ve invested time into and things can turn a bit sour if they’re not evaluated properly with some perspective.

As with all things emotional, you should step back and think about the bigger picture!

If you’re in that narrow period of time, or just want some tips for next time on how you might deal with it then here are some thoughts you might want to mull over.

I’m just going to throw out bullet points because

a) It’s quicker and I’m being lazy

but also

b) I can’t give you the answer.

It’s never an open and shut case, as much as you might want to cite time investment, experience, job titles and all sorts of other things you can reach for.

Sometimes the best answer is the one that sucks and it hasn’t arrived at a good time but there’s never really a good time.

Oh and one last thing: When you invest time and effort into something, it’s natural to feel emotional! You can’t unlogic yourself out of those feelings and you shouldn’t try to.

If you’re not up for the task, don’t read these points and beat yourself up by any means. That’s not what this is for!

These are just things to ask yourself in a neutral light. Don’t judge yourself for actions that have already passed. It’s more about deciding what to do next and what you might do differently next time.

I’m experiencing Scenario A

So you’ve just created something and you’ve been informed that your idea already exists in some other form.

  • How was the reaction that you received?
  • Was it welcoming to a newcomer into that space?
    • If yes, great!
    • If no, that’s not very nice
      • Why is that? Does this happen a lot?
        • If yes, that sounds like a them problem right? Something keeps going wrong that people arrive at the conclusion that they need to start from scratch

I’m experiencing B

So you’ve have or are actively creating something and you’ve been informed that someone has just stepped into your problem domain.

  • How are you feeling about this news right now?
    • Are you excited for some new competition, regardless of whether you agree with the approach?
      • If yes, great, that sounds healthy
      • If no, why is that?
        • Do you feel that it doesn’t compare in terms of quality to your work?
          • If yes, why does that matter?
            • Does a new offering existing somehow take away from your work?
        • Is your work able to stand on its own merits?
          • If no, should it exist if it can’t support itself and needs ie; political cover to stay alive?
          • Do you feel that people don’t appreciate it fully?
            • Do you have solid documentation and announcements that people can discover on their own time?
            • If your approach communicated clearly?
            • Is the problem space too deep in the weeds for people who are not domain experts to “get it”?
              • Can you considered making use of metaphors, or just general storytelling to help bridge the communication gap
            • Has enough time actually passed for people to “have time” to learn about your offering and to “get it”?
            • Have you actually talked to anyone about your problem area?
              • How do you know that this problem area is actually a problem?
              • Do other people see this problem area as being a problem?
              • Do other people have this problem enough to “feel” that it is a problem?
              • Is the length of the problem only felt in short enough bursts that others are not motivated enough to seek out a solution?
    • Did you feel an emotion reaction to this news?
      • If yes, why is that?
        • Do you consider yourself to be an expert in this particular domain?
        • Do you spend a lot of time working in this particular domain?
        • Is this particular domain just one that you spend time in or your core one?
        • If you felt an overwhelming emotion reaction, is your identity and sense of self worth tied into this domain?
          • Should it be? Maybe it is more than you realise?
          • Do you feel that you could walk away from this problem domain and not feel a great loss?
            • Do you need to diversity your identity a bit more and find some different hobbies?