The Cave
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The Cave

Competing against Incumbents

About the Book

This book is an exploration of lessons that Plato's Allegory of the Cave delivers both for incumbents, and their serious contenders. As such, it doesn't cater only to those competing against incumbents, but also to those incumbents who have long enjoyed a fortified position thanks to an enduring market share.

It has been written based on actual, real-life, hard-won experiences in successfully competing against long-standing, complacent incumbents, whose products had for decades been considered to be a safe bet, the obvious choice, unexciting but acceptable, despite an outdated and cumbersome UX/UI, a charging model curtailing affordability, tired brand-focused marketing targeting customers' complacency, etc.

Yet, it has also been informed by my own working experience and observations of how premium incumbent brands (fail to) react and (rarely) respond to new contenders, even when those contenders pose significant threats to the incumbent's market share.

The book contains a breakdown of the applicability of the allegory on such situations, exploring them from both sides. Because, ultimately, even a serious new contender would greatly like to dethrone the past incumbent, and build its own allegorical Cave.

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    • Product Management
    • Marketing
    • Innovation Management
    • Startups
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About the Author

Isaak Tsalicoglou
Isaak Tsalicoglou

Isaak Tsalicoglou writes about all aspects of organizations turning their knowledge about markets, customers, and technology into a competitive advantage through the judicious use of technology, vigorous collaboration across functions and locations, and an entrepreneurial mindset… but also writes about how hype, dogmatism, agency issues, culture clash and misaligned incentives prevent organizations from doing so.

Table of Contents

  • Before we begin
  • Figuratively (un-)enlightened
    • The surface
    • The trap of the Cave
    • The shadows on the wall
    • The procession of the guards
    • The distortion of reality
    • The exposure to reality
    • The probability of escaping
    • The attempt to convince
    • The attempt to escape
  • Business as usual, for incumbents
    • Just don’t rock the boat, OK?
    • Customers, sleep tight
    • Guardians and prisoners of the proverbial Cave
  • The role of the contenders, and their opportunity
    • Serious contenders
    • Between Caves
  • About the Author
  • Notes

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