Everything You Need To Know About Strategy – A Bakers Dozen Eternal Verities: Individuality

By Tom Peters

  1. Do you subscribe to Jerry Garcia’s dictum:“We do not merely want to be the best of the best, we want to be the only ones who do what we do”?

Doug Hall, P&G vet and long-time proprietor of Eureka Ranch, is my favorite marketing guru. One reason is his … Declaration of Dramatic Difference. Well, he doesn’t call it that—I do. In Jump Start Your Business Brain, Hall gives us his Three Laws of Marketing Physics. The Law of Dramatic Difference is number three. It goes this way. Prospective customers evaluate a new product. Then they’re asked (1) if they’d buy it and (2) if they see it as “unique.” The firm’s execs in turn evaluate and weigh the prospective customers’ reactions. Without fail, the execs deciding to launch or not bet close to one-hundred of their marbles on the intent-to-buy question, and virtually ignore the uniqueness issue. The problem, or should I say “THE PROBLEM”: In actual fact the intent-to-buy response is a poor predictor of subsequent real-world success (or failure), while the “uniqueness” assessment almost perfectly predicts the true response to the product.

Maybe all those execs Hall has been coaching for the last twenty years should have listened to the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia: “We do not merely want to be the best of the best, we want to be the only ones who do what we do.”

Cirque du Soleil redux, eh? It’s the ultimate BHAG:
“only ones who do what we do.”
(Only = Big Word.)

None of Hall’s client execs get it. Damn few anywhere get it. I decry those 100 percent shriveled imaginations, to be sure. ( Not my kind of guys. Any of ’em.) But I also decry the subsequent poor economic performanceof the ente rp rises—the co pycat s, looking only to do a bit more of what we do with a twist or two, or to copy-the- leader.“To grow,”wrote W.Chan Kim and René Mauborgne in “Think for Yourself—Stop Copying a Rival” (Financial Times), “companies need to break out of a vicious cycle of competitivebenchmarking and imi- tation. Aiming to be at the co m petition has the oppo- site effect to the one intended. It keeps companies focused on the competition.When asked to build com- petitiveadvantages, managers typically rate them- selves against competitors, assess what they do and strive to do it better.” Don Listwin, CEO of Ope n wave Systems, has the guts to put numbers around this idea: “How do dominant companies lose their position? Two-thirds of the time, they pick the wrong competitor to worry about.”Listwin was referring to Nokia’s recent problems,which he attributes to copying Microsoft and offering a jillion ove rly complicated features that customers simply weren’t pining for. But to me a thou- sand alarm bells went off from my 35-year ca reer in business.

U.S. Steel worries exclusively about foreigners and is late to the local mini-mill party (Nu co r, et al.). GM and Fo rd relentlessly fo l l ow each other—and dismiss the Japanese for years,even decades. Xerox does the same thing, gnashing teeth over IBM and Kodak and overloo king the Japanese. IBM, on the other hand, sees Siemens and Fujitsu in its dreams—and misses Microsoft (et al., et al.). And so on … and on.

Jerry G. sets a high standard … but is there any other in this madcap world?

Richard Branson on “Strategy”:
Follow your passions.
Keep it simple.
Get the best people to help you. Re-create yourself.
Source: Fortune on Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Group