Recently, we came out of the age of curiosity, entered the age of scarcity and are now sinking in the age of abundance. Everything is here.
Today, all over the world, millions of identical companies are producing millions of identical products and services, and they are pushing identical prices on identical delivery platforms. On top of that, they have identical management and identical corporate behavior all the way from the boardrooms to the cubicles.
Furthermore, there are identical brands, identical names and identical business identities. If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. There seems to be a serious lack of originality, substance, courage and leadership. Is this age of abundance going to drown us?
Why We Ended Up Here
Compulsory and forced innovation has limits; there are only so many ways to re-design a car. Moving ashtrays and coffee mug holders every two years is not a new model of a car. Levitation is.
A computer in its current hardware shape is completely outdated. So are thousands of other things.
Our current culture is responsible for this lack of original and creative innovation. Office cubicles have taken away the power of innovation as masses have been conditioned to rigid conformity, visible isolation, linear formations and assembly-line mentality.
Copying has been awarded as a safe play.
- Bring down the wall. Like the Berlin Wall, bring down the cubicle and run around like the Incredible Hulk. Ask your teams to create at least one new idea every day. Discuss it with some serious effort. If not immediately applicable, then file it away for future reference.Ask and ask again and again: Why are your products and services SO similar to your competitors, including the colors, prices and the brand names. Only if asked with persistence and honesty will it create and open doors to innovation. Don’t blame others, just search for innovation.
- Find the ropes. Like Spiderman, avoid the elevators and scale the headquarters. Jump and bypass your immediate bosses, as often they are the ones directly responsible for playing it safe by adopting simple rules and for following others with identical goods and services. Go to the top; it is easy, all you need are ropes and good swings. Innovation is the bond and the glue between new products and customers. Good ideas will easily rope in the management. Next time, ask before pushing the elevator button: Is this the only way to go to the top?
- Fly over the globe. By air or at least via the Web, circumnavigate the globe — not merely once a year but, rather, daily or even hourly. There is a wild, wild world out there. The ideas and opportunities are endless. Global research is critical today. To stay ahead, lead your teams to sharper innovation. This can be achieved by observing global trends and market shifts. Put your suits away; try a robe for a change.
In conclusion, you might have the best team with the best of innovation, but there are these overly diluted markets out there, glutted with look-alike brands and identical services. The challenge is to fine-tune a marketing process that will not only re-energize the production but produce a shaper edge in design, quality and value, and build a unique iconic identity. When there are too many identical business journals, it seems comic books, after all, are nothing to laugh at.
Naseem Javed, author of Naming for Power and alsoDomain Wars, is recognized as a world authority on global nameidentities and domain issues. Javed founded ABC Namebank, aconsultancy he established a quarter century ago, and conducts executiveworkshops on image and name identity issues. Contact him at [email protected]