Monday, April 12, 2010

How to leapfrog the competition

There are very few innovators these days. A few companies lead the way while everyone else tries to catch up. Take Apple and the tablet computer for example. As soon as Apple announces a product, everyone scrambles to push out the same thing. Do you think we would be deluged with new tablet computers if not for the iPad? I doubt it.

There are two problems with “catch up” approach: First, the leaders have invested more thought and effort into their products, while the followers don’t have the luxury of time. Their products are hastily planned and assembled. Secondly, and most importantly, the “catch up” approach ensures that the followers will never get ahead.

To get ahead, you need a completely different mindset. Innovators don’t try to match the competition, they try to surpass the competition. This timely article in provides some great insight into the innovative tactics of companies in developing countries. Hint: They don’t try to play catch up.

Innovation requires two main ingredients:
  1. Most importantly, innovation requires a vision.
  2. It requires the know-how to see the vision through.
Companies who have know-how but no vision are the followers. Companies with vision but no know-how just need to find someone or something that provides the know-how. Take this company for example. They had a vision for e-commerce, but lacked the appropriate skills to create an e-commerce solution. They managed to create one anyway, without bringing in any new employees.


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