To dominate an industry and outperform your competition, you have to be different. You have to be different in a meaningful way. What you don’t always need to be is the best.  

(NB - this post continues my thoughts from Why you should stop trying to be the best.)

Last week I heard brilliant Harvard Professor Youngme Moon present and she suggests that if you are committed to being different you’d better eliminate these 3 long-standing business instincts from your culture:

  1. Paying too much attention to the competition - in Youngme’s word’s “who cares what they are doing!”.  
  2. Over-listening to customers - the advice you get from customers will always be to improve, not to be different. 
  3. Over-commitment to excellence - there’s no need to be excellent at everything. Different nearly always involves being brilliant at some things and weak at others. To be different, stop trying to be well-rounded. 

There’s a striking similarity between Youngme’s point 2 and and lesson 2 that Guy Kawasaki taught us from his time working with Steve Jobs.  Remember “Customers cannot tell you what they need” from this article?

To be different, you have to think different and create an organisation that is committed to being different.