One of my favorite authors is the Albanian, Ismail Kadare, and there's been a lot of discussion of the Mideast in my home. Trust me, these are related.
The media keeps comparing Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Tunisia’s futures to either Iran or what? Pakistan? Indonesia? Turkey? Always to other Mid-East, Asia, or Asia Minor countries (yes, Turkey straddles both continents, in so many ways).
No one compared these countries futures to any European country. I kept thinking about Albania. Now see the link?
Having read Kadare’s books and learning a bit of Albanian history and ‘freedom’ post-1989, it seemed Albania could be just as likely a model for Egypt as any of the others. Kind of wondered if I wasn’t a bit nuts with this analogy until Monday 2/14’s WSJ article by Matthew Kaminski.
So what in the world does this have to do with strategy and innovation? Everything! When we start creating our organization’s strategic direction (which should be a living, ongoing, adapting process) and look at how and where we can innovate, we tend to look at others ‘like us’.
This is natural, but not helpful. Blockbuster did this, was offered the opportunity to buy another ‘near’ it, but not ‘like it’ and got Netflixed*. What if Blockbuster had looked at those not “like us” or even combined what it did with what others did…the power of “AND”? Apple and Best Buy have built success on not looking at those ‘like us’ AND combining what’s out there (e.g., iTunes, iPod). Who else can you think of?
So, try these two things to grow your business:
- Stop looking at those ‘like us’… look at those very “not like us”;
- Start combining…instead of asking do you want this or that, put them together!
Sometimes it’s worth comparing apples and oranges! As Capt. Renault said in Casablanca, [don’t] “Round up the usual suspects.” Go look for unusual suspects. My friend, Saul Kaplan, puts it so eloquently: innovation is found in “random collisions of unusual suspects” – in RCUS (ruckus!) – go make a RCUS! You’ll be amazed at what you discover and learn to grow your business, your people and yourself.