Why a Leading Edge Strategy May Bleed You to Death

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In this article, Dan Markovitz identifies the problem with striving to be on the leading edge and why focusing on achieving lean operations is a better strategy. 

Don’t be seduced by the siren song of the leading edge. While it’s a nice concept, it’s not nicknamed “the bleeding edge” for nothing. All too often, companies that strive for first mover advantage bleed their products—or their entire organization—to death. 

Peter Golder and Gerard Tellis’s seminal study of 500 brands in 50 product categories reveals that almost half of market pioneers fail. In fact, the greatest long-term success belongs to companies that enter a market and become leaders about 13 years after these first movers. MITS introduced the first personal computer in 1975. Bell Labs brought out the first color TV in 1929. 3M had the first copy machine in 1950. Good luck finding any of those products today. 

In follow-up work, Tellis shows that even now there’s little evidence to support the idea of first mover advantage: MySpace and Friendster were ahead of Facebook, Books.com was online before Amazon, AltaVista (among others) beat Google in search, and Sony, Blackberry, and others hit the shelves before Apple in mobile music, smartphones, and tablets. That’s quite a collection of corporate carcasses. 

Forget about the leading edge. Instead, focus on becoming faster and more nimble, so that you can get to the head of the market quickly, when the timing is right. That means eliminating the bureaucratic barnacles that encrust so many organizations. Here are a few areas that are probably creating lethal operational drag on the corporate ship.

 

Key points in this article include:

  • The hoshin kanri solution
  • Assessing the skills and traits
  • Misaligned decision rights

 

Read the full article, Want To Be On The Leading Edge? Forget About It., on Markovitzconsulting.com