"The paradigm of competition is a race: by rewarding the winner, we encourage everyone to run faster. When capitalism really works this way, it does a good job; but its defenders are wrong in assuming it always works this way." - Richard Stallman
A paradigm is nothing more than a set of assumptions, values, and practices that constitute a way of viewing reality. For example, if you view business as a competitive endeavor, then you place yourself, metaphorically, on the same track as the "other guy." You think about staying a step ahead of the other guy. You value staying a step ahead of the other guy. You put practices in place to stay a step ahead of the other guy.
Unfortunately, customers could care less about you and the other guy. Customers care about themselves.
Today's paradigm shifting is about new, out-of-the-box consumer experiences. Old paradigm: Music delivered how radio wants it delivered. New paradigm: Your music delivered when, where and how you want it. Old: Limited selection and high late fee, video rental stores. New: Streaming videos by subscription (and to your tablet). Old: Clipping coupons from your local newspaper. New: Contextually relevant merchant deals on your smartphone. Old: Daily fee car rental, plus gas and insurance, plus long lines. New: Car sharing services.
If you study marketplace evolution, it becomes apparent that incumbents typically fail to reinvent their industries. Disney let Pixar do it. United watched as Southwest Airlines skyrocketed to the top. Nokia was disrupted by Apple and Google.
Why? Because market leaders are wedded to an existing paradigm, to caution and convention. And so, they focus on incremental changes in their served markets to stay a step ahead of the competition. They don't innovate for customers. They tweak their offering to try to beat the other guy.
Mark Twain once wrote:
"The best swordsman in the world doesn't need to fear the second best swordsman in the world; no, the person for him to be afraid of is some ignorant antagonist who has never had a sword in his hand before; he doesn’t do the thing he ought to do, and so the expert isn't prepared for him; he does the thing he ought not to do and often it catches the expert out and ends him on the spot."
Do you consider yourself an expert? Or are you an antagonist for the benefit of your audience?
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