When everyone Zigs, You have to Zag

In order to be successful in today’s highly competitive market we have to do something totally different and unexpected from what everybody else is doing in order to attract attention.


For most companies, the problem with radical differentiation is the “radical” part. If nobody’s doing it, you’d be crazy to do it yourself, right?

Wrong. In fact, if you’re looking to become the leader in a new market space, the rule is the opposite. If anybody’s doing it, you’d be crazy to do it yourself. You can’t be a leader by following the leader. Instead, you have to find the spaces between the fielders. You have to find a zag [when everyone is zigging].

What stops most companies from zagging is the cloud of uncertainty that follows innovation. It’s difficult to zag when every bone in your body says zig. Human beings are social animals—our natural inclination is to go with the group.

Radical differentiation is about finding a whole new market space you can own and defend, thereby delivering profits over years instead of months. With a zag, you can start a new category that your customers, your employees, your partners-even your competitors-will help you build.  Without a zag, you could easily end up in the fossil layers of market clutter.

Summing-up: you can’t be a leader by following. To achieve originality we need to abandon the comforts of habit, reason, and the approval of our peers, and strike out in new directions. Creativity doesn’t require reinventing the wheel, but simply thinking in fresh ways.


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