IF there are five people at the side of the road selling tomatoes –will you join them as the sixth seller? In business you will see a lot of copying and a lot of imitation.
Basically, companies are offering the same “ho hum” take it or leave it services or products – and then complaining that business is bad.
Look around you and you will see just about every enterprise claiming to have ‘the best’ offering and cliché of customer friendly quality service.
But do they? Do they ‘wow’ you with their service offering so that they can thrive by just plain word of mouth and recommendations? Perhaps in a fairy tale world, but 95 percent of all firms are remarkable in their similarity.
Innovation is a word managers love to throw about. Yet it’s rare in practicality.
If you take, for example, the banks operating in Rwanda, Uganda or Kenya it is often hard to tell one from the other.
Why don’t we see many companies creating new products and services in demand, filled with the illusive unique selling propositions (USP) that push customers’ hot buttons?
Isn’t that the essence of good management – taking a creative concept and making it fly? The perpetual copying has turned the business market place into more of a “sheep complex” -- being a follower, rather than taking an entrepreneurial path that has been not trodden upon.
This seems normal, thanks to humanity, our biological roots and how our human brains function.
The human brain has an estimated one million brain cells. In theory the possibilities for all sorts of different thoughts and ideas are limitless.
Each of the ten billion neurons in the human brain has the ability to connection to one with twenty eight zeros after it – so you can see why neurologists say that the potential of the human brain is almost unlimited – yet we don’t use it.
Every time you have a thought, the biochemical – electromagnetic resistance along the path carrying that thought is reduced.
So it’s like trying to clear a path through a forest. It might be tough for the first time, due to the undergrowth, but after a few trips it becomes quite easy to move along.
The same is true with the human brain – the more you repeat patterns of thought, good or bad, the less resistance there is to them.
The more times a mental event happens – the more likely it is to happen again. So our brains works by patterning that is why we feel comfortable using patterns we recognise.
Simply, imitating what you see others doing in their businesses does not exactly spell innovation.
The answer first of all lies in noticing that and understanding the fundamental values and needs of your customers; it’s not what you think they want.
After doing this, use staff who have the ability to amaze their customers with their outgoing service attitude. Yes, all of this is easier said than done, but the first step is up to you.
David J. Abbott is a management consultant working in Rwanda