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The Next Big Thing Has Arrived. Don't Jump on the Bandwagon Yet!

July 7, 2013, 9:00 AM

When there is a new idea that’s brewing out there, you don't need to jump on the bandwagon. You really only need to sort of go in ankle deep.  Ankle deep is experimenting.  I think the best things that people do and the best ideas come out of experimentation.  So you don’t have to go all in.  You can experiment. 

You can plant a seed over here or plant a seed over there and then once that germinates or comes to fruition you can start to see whether that is relevant for your company, for your customers, or for your potential customers or not. 

I think experimentation is a really important part of the lifecycle of a company both strategically and from an innovative point of view.  I think a lot of times when you’re sitting on the sidelines and everybody’s chanting and the drum is beating, you feel like a dinosaur. Why aren't you doing this? It’s the obvious thing to do.

But if it really were the obvious thing then it’s a no brainer.  The problem is that value is usually not created from the obvious thing.  It’s created from something that’s less obvious to most people.  And you go into that territory.  And when you go into that territory there’s actually nobody beating on the drums and chanting.  It’s usually people throwing rocks at you or that turds are hitting the windshield.  

And then you have to have the conviction that you’re going into something that’s new and different and we’re going to see you on the other side.  And that takes a different kind of leadership than the person who’s willing to jump on every bandwagon, go neck-deep in terms of the sexy new idea but that new idea may have no relevance for their company.

And I think as an investor we need to step back and say, “Okay, where are the companies that are relevant for me as an investor.”  And then start to think about okay, how are they innovating?  How are they thinking about new ideas?  Who’s on the leadership team?  Is the leadership team diverse?  Does the leadership team represent their customers both today and potential customers?  You know, because if companies are gonna represent their marketplaces it should be emblematic on the leadership team and throughout the organization.  And I think there’s still a lot of work to be done in most companies in order for that to be achieved. 

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

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The Next Big Thing Has Arri...

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