I would like to thank everyone who joined in on the conversation on twitter and Facebook this past week regarding the Law of Leadership. If you would like to join in on the conversations I can be found on twitter at @jdstewart and of course I you can friend me on Facebook as well. The conversations centered around is there any sense in being the market if you are not the first mover or innovator. The short answer is yes but since it requires more than 140 characters to explain. That is the subject of this weeks cast.
We learn the idea of being better early in life and it is continually re-enforced. Getting to the top by not doing something better but doing something new goes against so many core beliefs that is is difficult to except. We learn competition through sports. And the way you reach the championship is by being the best. So we try to reach the top by simply being better than everyone else. When we try to bring that understanding of competition to business and human nature it has limited success. We offer higher quality, faster deliver, greater variety, lower price. I mean, who would not want those things. But it is the first to market who grabs the mind share of the customer. That’s the law of leadership. But you can modify that law by defining a category or sector you are first in. You can gain a sizable market share by following the leader. And you can make a profit. There are companies who business plan is to always be a close follower. But if your goal is number 1 you need to innovate.
All of this begs the question what is creativity Creativity is seeing old things in a new ways. It is putting things or ideas together in a way they had not be put together before. As Solomon said there is nothing new under the sun. But we can re-arrange the old things in new ways. That leads us to our next law. The law of Categories.
The law of leadership is modified by the law of category or as some refer to is a the niche. Let’s start off by re-examining a question I asked last week. Do you know who was first person to fly non-stop across the Atlantic ocean? Most people do. Charles Lindberg. And the second question is, do you know the name of the second person to fly across the Atlantic Ocean? You probably do not unless you listened to the last podcast. That person was Bert Hinkler. As you may remember Hinkler was a better pilot and navigator. He made the crossing in less time and used less fuel. But being better did not put him in the history books. No one knows who he is. Next question. Do you know who the third person was to fly across the Atlantic Ocean? I bet you do. But you don’t not them at the third person to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. You know her as the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. Amelia Earhart. Amelia Earhart was still a first. She was first in a category she created. Being first in a category can be just as good as being first over all. You are still an original. This works well even if it is a made up category. For example Tito’s Handmade Vodka. Tito did not invent vodka. But prior to Titos there was no such category as handmade vodka. It simply did not exist! It was a made up category. They made it up simply to be number one in that category. Marketing genius! Any one who wants to compete with Titos in that category will be an also ran.
Innovation is not simply creating a new product or service. It is creating a new way to look at that new product or service. When Apple came out with the iPod, it created great stir in the electronics community. Why? It was simply a mp3 player. Mp3 players had been around for a long time. Apple created a new category itunes. None of the technology was new. The technologies of e-commerce and downloading content had been around a long time. Apple was not first in any of those technologies. Apple created a new category. A category that provided secure, trusted, legal method to distribution music and other mp3 content. While today mp3 stores are all over the internet. No one has even comes close to what Apple is doing. Apple owns the mp3 player market because the created a category of mp3 distribution. Of course there are other laws at play here but those are for another time.