David Bowie is famed for saying, it’s not who does something first, it’s who does it second. His point is that it is not the originators of ideas who usually succeed but those who follow in their footsteps.
This is counter-intuitive if you believe all those business books (and MBA programs) espousing first-mover advantage.
Steve Blank recently wrote about this on Business Insider in his post You’re better off being a fast follower than an originator.
But why? For all our radical ideas and protestations, human beings are relatively conservative. We play things safe. So the person (or organisation) that originates a game changing idea will usually be met with inherent resistance from the market. The fast follower, as Blank sees such organisations, doesn’t meet the same speed bumps because the originator has already broken down the resistance for them.
We need great, game changing ideas. Just don’t invest in the ones claiming first-mover advantage.
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