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Outthinkers and Thinkers In Business - Examples

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Thu, Jan 26, 2017

outhink-1.jpgI’m not of fan of using fear to motivate.

If you don’t feel fear motivates, check out The Most Powerful Motivator and 5 Reasons Why You Should Use Fear As Motivation To Achieve Better Things.

Doubt destroys motivation.  Challenges, difficulties, and obstacles force us out of our comfort zone.

In today’s dynamic business environment, being forced by fear to respond probably means you’re too late. Being too late brings doubt about your future. And just a reminder from Robert Wilson, author of The Most Powerful Motivator:

Doubt destroys motivation!

Fear paralyzes and torments.

Here are some examples from Michel Robert’s Strategy Pure & Simple II to help motivate you to do something now about Innovation and Outthink Your Competition:


  • Kodak should have been the 1st company to recognize the opportunity that digital imaging represented. Yet, when Sony unveiled its first digital camera in the early 1980s, it sent earthquake-size tremors through the Kodak empire. February 9, 2012, Kodak closed its digital camera business.
  • When computers were just in their infancy, the two companies in the best position to capitalize on that emerging trend were GE and Siemens. However, both companies missed the boat and the trend was exploited by an upstart called IBM.
  • Even mighty IBM initially refused to recognize the advent of the personal computers and the accompanying need for software. It took Bill Gates to see the potential of that opportunity and then capitalize on it.


  • Executive Jet Aviation, has turned an entire industry on its heels by crafting a distinctive strategy that has completely changed the rules of the game. Rather than have companies buy corporate jets outright, he devised the concept of “fractional ownership” of corporate jets whereby a company buys a quarter or eighth of an aircraft in return for a certain amount of flying hours per year
  • In the car rental business, three companies have been slugging it out for over 30 years with no change in market position or market share. Hertz is number one; Avis is still the ‘try harder’ number two and National trails as n umber three. logo-enterprise.pngHowever, the real winner and real number one is Enterprise. Enterprise has become the largest and most profitable car rental company in the world by pursuing a different strategy. Enterprise focuses on people who require a car to replace the one they own while it is being repaired or for some other temporary situation & furthermore instead of hiring low-paid service employees, it recruits freshly minted college graduates, who are highly rewarded to build profitable locations. It delivers cars to your home and picks it up at the end of the rental.
  • Zippo Manufacturing Company sticks lot like a sore thumb. While the four competitor companies are battling it out in the low-end, 99cent disposable market, Zippo has decided on a different strategy. Its lighters sell for $13 to $40 each. The company focuses on making lighters that become “collector items” It offers a wide variety of designs, such as the Elvis model, models commemorating special events, and lighters with corporate logos etc.

We’ve already documented Google’s Outthinker Example in Are You Outthinking Your Competition?

Here are two more quick examples from the book OUTTHINK THE COMPETITION, and then a short example from one of my own customers.

  • FedBid helps governments reinvent how they buy things. The company enables federal agencies to procure products and commodities through a full-service online marketplace using a reverse auction process in which vendors vie to provide the government with what it needs. Their website touts over 85% of Contracts Awarded go to Small Businesses.
  • Blink. Peter H. Leiman and Cameron Odgen, two Harvard Business School MBA students, made the trip to Walmart to pitch a proof of concept that they’d been working on in school, an idea to save Walmart 25 percent on its airline travel expenses. The pitch was simple: if Walmart used small, inexpensive jets to shuttle its people around, and filled each jet with four people, it could travel with greater flexibility at a lower cost. The pitch worked, just not in the direction expected. Convinced, even though they had no real business-building experience, Leiman and Odgen started an airline. They have since raised $30 million and launched Europe's first air taxi company, Blink, based in London with hubs in Geneva and the Channel Islands. Their vision: to redefine the world of short-haul travel


A customer of mine, Fred Schiff, runs a very successful mid-sized business: All County Music.  His business focuses on school band instruments, offering sales, excellent customer service and music rentals to students and schools in Broward County, Florida.  In 2014 he had a brainchild to specialize in Flutes.  Florida-Flutes.jpgIt would mean cannibalizing floor space on his showroom floor.  All County Music would leverage its outstanding reputation for customer service to specialize in a specific market segment.  It was a huge risk.  Yet Fred Schiff is not only entrepreneurial, courageous, he’s creative. Fred is a master at building relationships with his customers.  Focusing on college music departments, teachers, and students, Florida Flutes has grown to produce a sizeable growing share of his business.  It’s spawned FloridaTrumpets_Logo.pngFlorida Trumpets, and will soon spawn another member to its specialization tree.  How popular is Florida Flute’s (check out customer comments on Facebook) reputation? The Florida Flute Association Convention is this weekend.  Fred received a phone call this week from a flute instructor alerting him two of her students need flutes. They’ll stop by Florida Flute’s booth at the convention to make sure they get the right flute for their talents and needs.


Great insights on innovation, right? Question: How do I take advantage of this trend?  How can I OUTTHINK MY COMPETITION?

Before we dive into how to Outthink Your Competition, and the specific process Kaihan Krippendorff recommends, we’ll look at Nine Trends Transforming Our World. Just how threatened is your business? Find out how these powerful trends are shaping a new competitive era.

Topics: strategy, Innovation Process, strategy decisions, Innovation, OUTTHINK THE COMPETITION

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The Strategic Discipline Blog focuses on midsize business owners with a ravenous appetite to improve his or her leadership skills and business results.

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