Competition Vs Differentiation
The search for exceptional profit
Experts are awesome at helping your business to survive in a competitive marketplace. They know the best ways to do most things, and you would be foolish to ignore their advice.
Manufacturing, distribution, marketing, sales, research, recruitment, finance … etc, all the domains of experts.
So, should we just step back and let the “experts” do what they do best?
Experts have a tendency to “compete”. Yes, that can be a very good thing for a huge company that wants to maintain its position at the top of the marketplace ladder. But, if you’re a small operator, or just starting out, maybe you have the opportunity to differentiate your business … to ignore and/or defy the experts … and not compete.
“If your business strategy is to compete with the existing experts, get ready to tighten your belt”
Most “experts” will tell you the same thing . . . there is a “best” way of doing things and that’s the way it should be done.
They know this because they are the “experts”.
So, what would happen if every business was run only by “the experts”?
LET’S TRY THIS
Hitting a home run
Ten experts in the design and manufacture of baseball bats run ten different companies that manufacture the complete range of baseball bats. Each of the experts knows the best materials, the best shapes, the most exacting manufacturing methods, the most efficient distribution methods, what turns buyers on etc.
Why are these companies doomed to substantially fail?
The answer is competition.
Experts produce generic outcomes that result in COMPETITION
But hang on, isn’t competition good?
Not this type of competition. In this case, the “experts” likely outcome is:
- Profits will be virtually impossible to achieve as consumers easily switch between manufacturers and are only drawn by price;
- Innovation is missing, so the game of baseball stagnates when compared to the innovation of the sporting equipment from other types of sport;
- Blinkered thinking.
Yes, just as your education and life experience worked against you in solving the “blinkered thinking” puzzle in Lesson One, so too does the expertise of the so-called experts.
In fact, the greater your expertise, the greater the opportunity for blinkered thinking.
Now, a new manufacturing company opens up but it hasn’t got any experts to help it get started. If you are an investor, this is the company you should be keeping an eye on and maybe putting a speculative investment in. While success is not guaranteed, what I can promise you is that this company CAN’T compete. It will be differentiated. It will only survive through innovation.
The new company starts making bats and as expected by the “experts”, they seem inferior; in fact, they are outside the permissible specifications for the game. The experts all smugly ridicule their new competitor’s product, pointing out the inferior attributes and higher cost. At this point, you start to have doubts about your investment and our story could end here, and sometimes it does.
Still, there is always somebody who hates the status quo, and they will buy the “inferior” bats just to be different. Someone using one of the new company’s bat designs notices that it has an attribute that they like. It can’t hit as far as a normal bat, therefore making it more suitable for backyard use. You get the idea? Promote this.
Next, the bat becomes so popular for its use in backyards, the company decides to create a league that uses the “inferior” bats on smaller playing fields. The “experts” are no longer experts in baseball bats, they are merely experts in the major league baseball bats. The experts are still not able to make money while the manufacturer of the “inferior” bats has secured a patent on his design and new mini-league, has no competition, and can pretty much charge what he likes for the newly innovated specified mini-league bats. Your investment is looking good.
How often do we see new startup companies rocket to fame, fortune, and market dominance only to find themselves in the scrap heap down the track?
Kodak comes to mind, the “experts” in film technology. They didn’t see the digital age coming until their horse and carriage was finally banned from the roads. It was a company run by “experts”.
Kodak seemed dead in the water for some time. However, all of a sudden their fortunes turned around recently with their announcement that they’ve entered the field of cryptocurrencies. What would Kodak know about that subject that is to their advantage? Absolutely nothing. This is why I put a small speculative investment in them.
Lateral thinking advice for the entrepreneurial spirit . . .
“Try to avoid being an expert. Try instead to be briefed and experienced at as wide a range of experiences and skills as possible. Get knowledge and experience only up to a point that you’re able to recognize talent, then move up, or onto something new.
“When you find that special something that you’re passionate about, leap without hesitation. Trust in your own instincts, ignore and defy the experts. Gather talent and the experts under you, but it’s you who must steer your course, never the experts.
“If you find yourself becoming bogged down as an expert, don’t make the mistake of becoming merely a cog in the machinery. It’s time to move on.”
Never be afraid to tackle something you know little or nothing about. Often, your lack of knowledge or expertise is an advantage, not a disadvantage. Don’t take “expert” opinion as necessarily the best advice. It is only “currently” the best advice.
When dealing with others, whether they be people that work for you, work near you, or simply someone you interact with . . . a lack of “expertise” is often an advantage that will result in innovation and fresh creative thinking.
Check out these lateral thinking job interview questions.
Check out the concise definition: What is lateral thinking?
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I wish you luck in all your endeavors,
Michael Muxworthy – Lateral Thinking fiction Author.