AmiSight 2/9: Do Not Always Follow the Leader
This weekend I listened to a blog video by Professor Ichak Adizes titled “Do Not Follow the Leader” that I thought I’d share. Adizes shares the story of trying to decide where to go for surgery for his prostate cancer. Of course, everyone's first suggestion was to go to the best hospitals, John Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic. However, a recent medical school graduate advised him against this. He reasoned that this new technology, robot-assisted surgery (just emerging at the time, although mainstream today), was better than the traditional surgical method. Leading hospitals were still using the conventional means, waiting until the new technology became more widely accepted, fearing losing their leader status. To maintain the position of being #1, they have to continue performing with strategies they've already perfected. Others are free to innovate.
Here is his example:
“How do you catch a monkey?
Find a hole in a tree that is just a bit bigger than a monkey's fist. Put a coconut in the hole. The monkey will put his hand in the hole grab the coconut, but now his hand plus the coconut are too big to pull out. So the monkey will stay put, holding the coconut. The monkey is the prisoner of his success; it found a coconut. The more successful you are, the more you might be holding onto a coconut and refusing to change. The result will be that your competition that isn't having a coconut is free to roam the forest—and beat you in the marketplace.
The moral of this story: Your present success could be the reason for your future failure.”
– Ichak Adizes