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Opinion and Insight

'It Must Be Good, Others Are Doing It' Is One Dangerous Mindset to Live By, 2 years, 5 months ago

Innovation works against following the leader argues Sydney-based Compassionomics founder Paul Smith

'It Must Be Good, Others Are Doing It' Is One Dangerous Mindset to Live By

When I hear this from leaders, managers or marketers, in fact anyone (including myself), alarm bells start to go off in my head.

The other version you might hear is, “It can’t be good, no one else is doing it”.

We now live in a world of change where purpose and agility are the critical currencies for business. With constantly evolving technologies and ideas, this mindset of follow the leader (or don’t be the leader) is a huge mistake and makes you wonder where all the innovation has gone.

It’s very easy to copy, or to 'be inspired by' what others are doing and doing well, but unless your purpose and objectives are the same as theirs, it’s unlikely to work well for you. By all means be inspired by others but don’t fall into the trap of thinking what’s good for a peer, competitor, or completely unrelated business in another industry, is good for you.

A perfect example is social media. Social media is a land that many venture into without any idea about why they are there aside from – it’s what everyone else is doing.

In a previous life a board member of mine said we should start using LinkedIn more as a marketing channel. Why? Because that board member had just discovered LinkedIn and thought it was great. They had also seen other businesses using it to great effect but none of these comparisons were anything like our business. Well, awesome, let’s drop everything and get right to it!

Of course I was a bit more diplomatic…

Not only was LinkedIn not a place to interact with our target market (at the time) but we were also tight for resources and were getting so much joy from other social channels. It just wasn’t right for us and we had already excluded it as an option because we had done our research and planning.

Have you ever heard someone at the top of your business question, “Why are we not on Facebook?” Ask them why they have asked and I guarantee you the most common response will be, “Because everyone else is”. Your response could be:

- Do you think it’s working for everyone else?
- Do you think it’s helping their business?
- Is it building a community?
- Is it providing another vital touch point with clients?
- Is it converting into new or expanded sales?
- How much are they spending?
- Do they manage it in-house or use an agency?
- What are their objectives?

Any business needs to think long and hard about the business reasons for being “on” social media and not just follow the crowd, especially when the majority of the crowd is on it because they followed the crowd too! Add to this the fact that (in my opinion) most businesses are failing when it comes to social media and it raises some serious questions.

This brings me to another point. Some businesses don’t want to go near social for that reason – others are failing. Their thought process is because others have failed, they will too.

So, when planning to follow the example of another or for that matter action an innovative new idea, think first, what are you trying to achieve? If the only answer is that you want to do what everyone else is doing then stop. Please stop!

Don’t go on that course because someone else is. Don’t hire that agency just because everyone else has. Don’t sponsor that event because everyone you know goes to it. Just because everyone else is following the same path, it doesn’t mean they are all right and you better do it too.

The target market might not be at that event, or if they are, they may not want to engage with your type of business there. Others might be failing miserably, or not even measuring whether it’s working for them. They might be so incompetent they are throwing good money after bad. Or, they might be doing it very well indeed.

On the flip-side, please do explore that new idea that no one else is doing, but only if you’ve done your homework. True innovation comes down to exploring what’s best for you, what is your purpose, and what do you really want to achieve.