Tiger decided to benchmark Lion to see why Lion was the King of Beasts and not Tiger. Tiger determined that Lion was King of Beasts because Lion hunted together in a pride and Tiger hunted alone. So Tiger organized into a pride and soon starved to death in the jungle.
The point of benchmarking is to look for ideas that could prove useful to your organization. They always need to be put into context. Prides work for the Lion because the Lion lives in the savannah. Prides do not work so well in the jungle. Likewise, just because a company like P&G may successfully use open innovation does not necessarily mean that will work for you, nor that it won’t work for you. It all depends.
Missing the point of benchmarking is actually a very common error. We saw it play out in outsourcing when numerous companies sought to jump on the bandwagon before appreciating what outsourcing meant to their businesses. We see it frequently in mandates to generate licensing revenue like IBM, TI, or some other company did, without due considerations to the business and technology differences that cause that mandate to make more or less sense.
You should never look at benchmarking as a tool to tell you what you should be doing. You should only use it as a tool to tell you would you could be doing. Then you decide whether an idea actually makes sense for you.
(This is number 45 in our list of IP mistakes and how to avoid them.)
Image credit: Hemera