Henry Ford said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
‘Faster horses strategies’ are the ones that take you to compete on marginal advantages (cost, speed, convenience, etc.) but don’t differentiate you beyond that.
If you have horses, being faster than your racing competitors, will do a lot for you. If you have horses but compete with cars, you are limited.
If you have cars, make sure you know them well. If your customers want a Maserati, don’t try to sell them faster Fords. If they have Fords and want a faster Ford, you are OK. If you have Maserati’s to sell, don’t use a Ford dealership.
In the organizational development world, methodologies compete with each other. So-called ‘change management methods’ do that. They compete with each other on price, speed, number of consultants needed, number of days, and rates per day. Faster horses.
People frequently ask me how Viral Change TM compares with other ‘Change methodologies’. In other words, how much faster my horse is. I always have a very poor answer because Viral Change TM is not a horse, so I can hardly say how much faster it is compared with other methodologies. Viral Change TM generates large scale, bottom-up, sustainable behavioural and cultural change. In the sense that there is a process to do this, I have to say we have a method. But we don’t compete on methodology. We do compete on solving complex business issues. We don’t have a faster horse, we have a completely different motion system.
In the innovation world, innovation committees manage a stable of horses searching for the faster ones. People may choose to settle for ‘faster horse’ continuous improvement. And there may be very good reasons for this. But don’t expect the value delivered by a ‘faster horse strategy’ to be same as the one using a Maserati .
As a leader, you have choices to make. Make sure that you know the difference between a horse, a bicycle and a Maserati.