So, at the family reunion, where conversation is leisurely and late into the night, my brother Mike Mayeux—the CEO of Novotus, and the “natural” business genius among us—launched into one of his bursts of insight. I can’t tell you how valuable these are!
He plays golf regularly (ok – so he’s not really all that smart, is he?), and I asked him what happened to Tiger Woods. He talked about how the “window closed” on Tiger. I asked him to elaborate, and here’s his description (with a little added bold for emphasis):
It’s “The Window”… Tiger Woods had a window when he was all alone as a supreme player; and in that window, he had an opportunity to do his work and set his records. Now, it’s CLOSED. The new players are just better than he is. They hit the ball farther, putt better… smart and tough. They are tee-to-green doing better now than he did then.
With companies, there is an identical occurrence. They invent the wheel and are the only people with a wheel until some other company simply lays eyes on the wheel and builds one—now that advantage is gone. What took the first company years to build is suddenly duplicated by the competitor in a short time. The pioneers get the arrows — the settlers get the land. Apple is getting beat right now on co-innovation (taking advantage of common technologies at the same time – tie to market), and they are getting beat on technological configuration. This is complicated. Microsoft has a notebook that doubles as a laptop that is desk-ready but very portable. Apple has no incentive to make one of these because they can sell three devices to accomplish the same. If Microsoft puts a phone radio in that new device, they might run the table by combining three devices into one.
Now, I don’t know if any part of this is off base, but I do get the key concepts. Let me list them this way:
- You really do need to build (invent) a business advantage—one that puts you ahead of the herd.
- When you build (invent) a business advantage, it is shorter lived than ever before. Your window will close… pretty quickly, unless…
- You build (invent) another, new, not yet seen next advantage. In other words, staying one step ahead of the herd that is right on your heels is tougher than ever before.
- And, since “the pioneers get the arrows, the settlers get the land,” don’t be surprised when the arrows fly if you are ahead of the crowd. Because, fly they will.
The key part of all of this is the idea of the window. Tiger had a window. Then it closed.
So first, get to the window. Next, take advantage quickly. And last, have a real plan in place when that window closes. Because, it will close! And you’d better be ready.
Like I said—smart brother.
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