The Fear of Being Different

Being Different

Being Different

Being different is one of the keys to profitability, however, it is also one of the most feared strategies. Clearly, there are very few success stories about companies that behaved just like their competitors.  This may be because managers feel unusually vulnerable when considering a strategy that builds true distinction for their brand.  In so many cases we’ve seen, the courage to build true distinction comes when it seems like the only option.

Does this mean that most managers fear success?

We’ve certainly established that setting yourself apart from your competition is likely the most straightforward path to increase profits.  Click here for previous article.  Companies like Apple, Google and GoPro succeeded exactly because they came up with a unique way to create value by being different.   Does this mean that most managers fear success? While this is a real possibility, the fear of success is just one of the issues managers face.  Simply put, being different is something that requires bravery, and a willingness to fail if the bold assertion of your strategy doesn’t work out.

How can we embrace being different?

There are three key ways to get past the initial obstacle of emotional recoil that we have seen our clients use:

  1. Do your homework.  A thorough evaluation like the opportunity screening analysis helps to root out the hidden gotchas that we fear when trying a new strategy.  It also helps to use the entire Simplified Strategic Planning process, which emphasizes the use of data to make better decisions.
  2. Test your ideas. While experts and experience may tell us that something will – or will not – work, there is NO substitute for testing.  This is certainly true with revolutionary new approaches to your business. The more you can evaluate the operational and marketing issues in the real world, the more likely you are to succeed.
  3. Be clear about the value of using your new differentiation.  I should say be EXTRA clear about the value, since data-based evaluation should already lead you to making a better decision about radical change.  Beyond this, it’s important to back up a few steps to see the bigger value picture:  What do your customers get from this change?  What do they have to give up?  What are you giving up and getting?

These three steps won’t eliminate the risk of major change

Although they should help you feel more confident about being different and setting yourself apart from the competition.

Have you tried a radical new approach in your strategy that has worked (or not worked)?  We’d love to hear from you about both successes and failures that you’ve experienced.

Have you found a way to set yourself apart from your competition?  Attend our next seminar on Simplified Strategic Planning to learn more about differentiation and other aspects of strategic planning.

Robert Bradford is President & CEO of the Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc.  He can be reached at rbradford@cssp.com.

M. Dana Baldwin is a Senior Consultant with Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc. He can be reached by email at: baldwin@cssp.com

Co-Author, M. Dana Baldwin

Robert Bradford

Co-Author, Robert Bradford

Robert Bradford
 

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