Commoncog's Next Phase - Commoncog

I have three announcements to make today.

First, I’m pleased to announce the initial release of the Commoncog Case Library. This is a successor of the Case Library Alpha and Beta tests early last year, and is now completely rebuilt from the ground up — and on custom software.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

I’m very excited by the long-term direction of the site.

From a market perspective, my initial thought was that you are competing against Harvard Business School’s case studies, many of which are available for public purchase. How do you want to position yourself against that resource, and where do you think your competitive advantage can come from?

From an operations perspective, I’d love to hear more about how you are looking to scale case generation. I suspect there are several aspects of this that you would like to keep as proprietary knowledge. I’m interested from the perspective of leading a very small learning & development team, where we often need to synthesize a wide knowledge base on, e.g., project management or lean manufacturing, and the type of knowledge we need to generate is situational expertise that would be well served by the case approach. So, I would love any ideas you are willing to share that would translate to that work–or any hypotheses that we could explore as a small experiment and share our learnings back with you!


Thank you for the kind words Colin!

One of the more interesting things that I’ve learnt is that you’re never really sure who your competition is until you’re in the market for a bit. This seems odd, but it ties somewhat to my experiences in Fundraising Without Investors, and that I alluded to in Understand the Shape of the Game You’re Playing. I also really like this article from the Stay SaaSy folk (though this is primarily for enterprise B2B): Selling to the Enterprise #4: Which Competitors Matter? | Stay SaaSy

To be a little reductive, your competitors are who your customers think (or say) are your competitors. The reason this is the case is because markets are usually more complex than first meets the eye. Sometimes you think you’re offering X and competing with players who provide X, but then you find out that the market is really divided into people who buy X and Y and Z, and you discover you’ve been attracting people who buy Y instead! This has occurred in pretty much every company I’ve ever been involved in, and is never clear to an outsider looking in!

I’ve learnt to just keep my mind open, and go into customer interviews slightly blank, and to wait a bit before I figure out the actual shape of the chessboard.

I’m afraid I don’t have anything I’m confident enough of sharing here. This is a constant problem of mine — I originally started a thread intending to share insights from my WBR process, for instance, but I keep putting off sharing things that I think we’ve learnt, because I’m not sure if its correct.

I’ve since learnt that this is an affliction that operators tend to have. A friend told me: “I’m not sure if I’m writing this because it actually works, or I’m writing this because I think it sounds good and will get shared on social media.” I suffer from this tension a lot.

All of this to say: give me 12 months!


just one data point, but that is perhaps representative of many founder peers…

i now subscribe to commoncog,
but likely will not / never pay HBS!

whatever it is, the positioning is working, the format and content are working, so just keep doing what you’re doing Cedric.

(someday HBS will write a case study of how you ran thru the idea maze + disrupted them, or maybe even just redirect their site to you as universities become obsolete…)


Thank you for the kind words, @andyt! But I just want to point out (with my tongue slightly in cheek), that if you would not / never pay HBS, then perhaps Commoncog is not competing with HBS?



yep :+1:
(that was precisely my point, supporting your response to @colin.hahn)

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