“Being a one of a kind means we are automatically the best in the world at what we do.” — Victor WIlliamson
Best practices always sound like a good idea.
And they often are, up to a point.
And it’s going above and beyond that point that helps you rise above the noise.
The bold are the beautiful in today’s world.
Share and scale your unique value to your tribe of raving fans through your Signature Solutions, whether you are a one-man band or a giant corporation.
In the book, Out Think: How Innovative Leaders Drive Exceptional Outcomes, G. Shawn Hunter shares how individuals, teams, and leaders can innovate by going beyond best practices to build better, more unique, signature solutions that stand out from the crowd.
There is a Place for Fast Followers
Being a Fast Follower is often an effective strategy, because others have helped take the risk out, and helped identify what the market values.
“Most organizations recognize and embrace the notion of modeling best practices — studying operations and teams that exemplify the kinds of traits and behaviors they wish to learn from and adopt. Such modeling of best practices can be useful in many situations to gain market share and adapt quickly to developing technologies. Being a fast follower — a second or third to market — can be quite powerful. Facebook came long after Friendster and MySpace were in the marketplace. The iPhone was eight years late to the smartphone business.”
Signature Solutions are the Key to Leadership Positions
You can copy your way near to the top, but it’s innovation and Signature Solutions that will take you beyond the commodities.
“I couldn’t agree more that such modeling is important. Yet creating signature solutions is unlike a wholly borrowed, or ‘best,’ practice. In example, I’ve uncovered from talking with leading executives and thought leaders, consistently leveraging ‘best’ practices and creating a copy-cat business model will only get an organization so far. If a company aspires to being the best in its market, it has to lead. And only by the organization’s developing its own voice — its signature — can it attain that leadership position.”
Faster, Distinctive, and Brand Recognition
Signature Solutions help you carve out your piece of the market, and innovate your way to the top.
“When organizations direct more energy, resources, and time in developing signature solutions, they achieve three things:
- Get products to market faster. Trying to figure out what the competition is doing can turn into an obsessive distraction for organizations. When we overly burden ourselves with competitive analysis, we not only slow down the innovation process, but also begin to eradicate the signature characteristics of our products. When we focus on comparison, we begin to copy and, in the process, start to lose the unique and meaningful attributes that were originally attractive to our market. Allowing competitive analysis and worry to hijack our team’s attention also reinforces a grass-is-greener mentality and distracts from substantive progress. When we instead trust the deep expertise, intuition, and skill within our organizations, we build confidence and develop solutions faster.
- De-commoditize products. When we begin to develop our own signature solutions, we begin to introduce personality that cannot be copied or commoditized. This can be captured in what we provide, and how we provide it. Zappos, a wildly successful online shoe and apparel shop, has built an iconic identity around remarkable service. An iPhone is so truly unique that any copycat product would be instantly detected as ersatz by a faithful iPhone owner.
- Build brand loyalty. After interviewing Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, I’ll probably buy the company’s outdoor gear rather than its competitors’ simply because of how Patagonia runs its business. It takes responsibility for the integrity of its products, conscientiously overseeing all aspects of the company’s value chain from fabric source to construction, to market delivery, and even after the point of sale. Chouinard told me he has yet to find a business problem that cannot be solved by increasing quality. For his conviction, and the signature solutions Patagonie has developed, I have strong loyalty to them.”
Follow the leader only gets you so far. If you want to stand out, you need to step up.
Go for the bold.
Go above and beyond.
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Image by Jeffrey Zeldman.