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“do what they’re doing” September 8, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Did I Hear That Right?.
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This morning, one of our competitors launched a cheap knock-off of one of our products — ours is clearly better and already has an established customer base. The Two-Year-Old said to the room at large:

Can you imagine being part of the team they tell to, ‘do what they’re doing’?

Yes. Yes, I can. Because you tell us to do that almost every day. When someone makes a map mashup, you want one that involves crowdsourcing. When someone launches a new social media aggregator, you want one that has its own walled-garden login system. When someone implements new technology, no matter how shaky that technology is, we have to find a way to copy it without spending more money or buying new things.

I can imagine it just fine. So can the rest of us. We’re just too tactful to tell you.

This is happening all over the country. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but I liken it to the concept of flock-drafting in fantasy sports: when one person breaks the seal on, say, drafting tight ends in fantasy football, you can count on at least half the others in the draft also taking tight ends with their next picks. Nevermind the fact that the value probably isn’t there or that they have more important team needs elsewhere; one person does it, so we all have to do it.

And yes, these same people would jump off a cliff if all their friends did it.

I think that’s why so many businesses fail: instead of trying new things, they try the same things that everyone else is trying. Business thrives on innovation, not imitation.

Don’t do what they’re doing.

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