I was reading an article in the Harvard Business Publishing Blog on Warren Buffet and his views of this whole economic mess when I came across a great comment at the bottom of the article. The article was titled, “The Wisdom of Warren Buffet,” by Bill Taylor. Bill writes about a variety of topics and this one was spot on in the way we should think about “leading” and “innovation” and our “competition.”
Bill pulled some comments from a speech Warren Buffet gave where he said,
At one point, his interviewer asked the question that is on all our minds: “Should wise people have known better?” Of course, they should have, Buffett replied, but there’s a “natural progression” to how good new ideas go wrong. He called this progression the “three Is.” First come the innovators, who see opportunities that others don’t. Then come the imitators, who copy what the innovators have done. And then come theidiots, whose avarice undoes the very innovations they are trying to use to get rich.
The beauty of his down to earth logic was spot on in my opinion – innovation should never be stopped but watching great innovation be turned into worthless riches because of idiots is not what we should support. Lehman Brothers and many others have shown us how this can happen and how great ideas can be turned into garbage when irresponsible idiots get a hold of it – thanks Dick Fuld. Ok, now you know how I feel about that situation.
But there is one other point I want to offer to you to consider that was hidden at the very bottom of Bill’s article. This, to me, was the point we should all consider when it comes to our customers. Customer Innovation should be top of mind all the time for everyone in the company, especially any “C-Level” executives. After all, they are the only ones that still write us checks. But beyond customer innovation, one needs to consider “leading” with how they can create a better customer experience and by doing that is rewarded by greater Loyalty and greater Riches. This is the way true customer innovation should occur. There are others out there that are the Imitators and want to copy the leaders, nothing wrong with this at all – it helps the customers and raises the bar for everyone. What we want to see weeded out are the “idiots” that enter the game and screw it up for those doing the right things. Hopefully some of the economic challenges will purge these from the system – one can only hope.
OK, so what is the great quote I was referring to? It was,
“The curse of humanity is that people feel compelled to look over their shoulders,” Professor Warwick told my colleague Polly LaBarre a while back. “Happiness and self-esteem depend on rank and relative income. We are consumed by relativism. If your neighbor drives up in a new Lexus, and you’re still driving the Toyota that you were perfectly satisfied with yesterday, you start to become dissatisfied. So don’t use the financial crisis as an excuse to stop taking chances or downsize your ambitions. But do use the crisis as an opportunity to take stock of what really matters–and to stop looking over your shoulder.”
My thinking – STAY THE COURSE, remain a LEADER and INNOVATOR in the way you support and serve your customers and don’t look over your shoulder and drive by the rear view mirror.
Hope this helps…