29 July 2005

Richard Stallman on the paradigm of competition

"The paradigm of competition is a race: by rewarding the winner, we encourage everyone to run faster. When capitalism really works this way, it does a good job; but its defenders are wrong in assuming it always works this way."

A paradigm is nothing more than a set of assumptions, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality. For example, if you view business as a competitive endeavor, then you place yourself, metaphorically, on the same track as the "other guy." You think about beating the other guy. You value beating the other guy. You put practices in place to beat the other guy. Unfortunately, customers could care less about you and the other guy. Customers care about themselves.

Here's an excerpt from the latest issue of BusinessWeek magazine, which focuses on creativity and innovation in business:—
Think out-of-the-box consumer experiences, and you get the idea of paradigm shifting. Old paradigm: corner coffee shops. New paradigm: Starbucks (SBUX). Old: Radio. New: Satellite radio. Old: crowded electronic stores. New: Apple Computer (AAPL) stores. Old: grungy, smelly circuses. New: Cirque du Soleil. Old: any airline. New: JetBlue Airways (JBLU). Old: Macy's (FD). New: Target (TGT). Old: Earth-toned Birkenstock sandals. New: colorful beach "Birkis."

Or how 'bout … Old: Blockbuster. New: Netflix. I'm sure you have a few of your own personal favorites. Post them in the comments.

If you study marketplace evolution, it becomes readily apparent that incumbents typically fail to reinvent their industries. Right? Disney let Pixar do it. United watched as Southwest Airlines ate their lunch. CBS? No. MTV. Ditto Kodak oblivious to Canon. Why? Because market leaders have an existing paradigm that says business is about competition. And so, they focus on incremental changes in their served markets to stay a step ahead of the competition. They don't innovate for customers. They tweak their offering to beat the other guy.

Mark Twain once wrote:
“The best swordsman in the world doesn't need to fear the second best swordsman in the world; no, the person for him to be afraid of is some ignorant antagonist who has never had a sword in his hand before; he doesn’t do the thing he ought to do, and so the expert isn't prepared for him; he does the thing he ought not to do and often it catches the expert out and ends him on the spot.”

Do you consider yourself an expert? Or are you an antagonist for the benefit of your audience? Think about it.

via A Clear Eye

1 comment:

lord moranosa. said...

the problem with that word - paradigm - lies in the abuse of that word to describe situations of evolution, when the very word itself has become a stagnant meme to only describe a set of values used to achieve, and then to maintain, status.

your examples of 'starbucks', mtv, canon, et al, seems to blindside the basic understanding that these 'businesses' have reached a point of stagnation and predictability to the point where 'paradigm' no longer applies to these businesses. a true and pure paradigm seeks to evolve. a true and pure paradigm seeks to expand, a true and pure paradigms doesn't become complacent once it has reached the 'pinnacle'. for those in the know, the brilliant comic book writter grant morrison represents an individual possessing a strong set of creative balls, as he has consistently evolved his writing style once his former paradigms of writing have been thoroughly used by him (google the name if you will, and read some of his personal thoughts. one doesn't need to know comics to grasp what he's getting at...).

better yet - google samsung to understand how a true business paradigm works. the story of samsung remains a fascinating lesson to observe and absorb, and will allow you to understand what a true and pure 'paradigm' feels like and looks like.