Competitive mimicry abounds in today’s overwhelmed, often socially-driven, marketplace. Not only that: we have daily cognitive overload trying to discern whether content and “facts” are real, let alone original.
Let’s face it. At this point, there are very few original ideas. Unless, of course, these ideas are so unique, novel and provocative that they shift paradigms. Disrupt the status quo. Make people uncomfortable. In Thomas Kuhn’s seminal book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, he demystifies how some of Today’s (and Yesterday’s) ideas are primed to inevitably and indelibly change things Tomorrow and in the Future. I highly recommend we re-read, in this unsettling age of digital transformation. That little book has resided on my book shelf for many years now.
However, novel, game-changing ideas are one thing. Far too often competitors repackage ideas, concepts, phraseology and IP that gain professional traction for others. The game is to leverage other people’s work in order to gain the same for their own businesses and teams.
No matter whether we are startups, entrepreneurs or established businesses. Sometimes it seems as though we meet our product concepts, branding, and programs coming and going. Frustrating, isn’t it? However, transient. Here’s why.
- Hybrid mimicry exists throughout nature. It is an evolutionary survival strategy. For example, tasty animals evolve and mimic the color of other, venomous or unpalatable ones. Think Viceroy vs Monarch butterflies. Guess what? That color is superficial, but it serves its initial purpose. Potential predators – literally consumers – avoid these species because the color patterns signal risk, instead of reward. Instead of being confused by the two species, predatory consumers eventually ignore or completely avoid them. The same occurs in businesses involved in competitive mimicry. As a result, this tactic initially confuses not only our customers and investors, but those competitors’ customers, too. In fact, their customers may end up preferring the consistency of our tasty flavor instead. We are just an entirely different customer experience.
- Flavor of the Month competitive mimicry ultimately is transient. When competitors borrow from us and our companies, they assume that if our ideas, content and IP work for us, the same should work for them. Except that our stuff on them does not look, feel, taste and inspire similarly. There’s a reason. They do not have our professional DNA hardwired into their imagination, passion or purpose. Thus, their competitive mimicry resembles a shape-shifting octopus, changing both color and form. Over time, our cultivated clientele and investors grow smart enough to know Who is Who and What is What. Because we are consistent, rather than transient. And they know we have their backs and are thrilled to co-partner in their continuous success.
- Eventually, clients and investors prefer a palate of sustainability and substance over mimicry. Regardless of whether we manufacture, engineer, code, finance or innovate, we will be challenged by competitive mimicry. Because What We Do is a challenge: to our clients, colleagues and competitors. Be flattered. Continue the good work. Create those enduring, client-focused outcomes that drive business growth and sustainability. Ultimately, no one but us can deliver to our clients’ and investors’ value streams the way that we do. That is why we remain solidly sustainable and competitively and refreshingly palatable to our current clients. And, potentially, to our competitors’ clients, as well. Our substance and sustainability is how we grow and retain our customers’ businesses. That is our ongoing promise to them.
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Babette Ten Haken’s One Millimeter Mindset™ speaking programs leverage collaboration to catalyze professional innovation and the type of workforce engagement experiences which fuel customer success and business growth. She is a member of ASQ, SHRM, PMI, and the National Speakers Association. Babette’s Playbook of collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com. To learn more about what her programs can achieve for you, your team, your organization and your association, contact her, right here. Image source: Adobe Stock.