There is a herd mentality in tech. Decision makers often site industry leaders when proposing a change. Microsoft uses this framework, Google uses these tools, or Amazon organizes into teams this way. Following the leader puts you on a trajectory to be where the leader is now. Cut your own path and become the new leader.
Kids follow the herd
I remember as a kid wanting Air Jordan shoes. If I had the shoes (and grew tall enough to dunk), I could be the next Michael Jordan. Maybe even better. It was a simple plan to become the next GOAT (Greatest Of All Time).
But the shoes were expensive. They cost over $100. Not an option for an unemployed ten-year-old.
I pitched the idea to my parents as an investment opportunity. They passed. Instead, they escorted me to Payless to buy the knockoffs. A major setback on my road to becoming the next MJ.
Following is easy
My ten-year-old self failed to recognize a classic example of the herd mentality. Following the crowd used to be considered a bad thing, reinforced by the classic motherly example: If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?
These days with social media, the crowd is revered as an omniscient being. Do what They say and your wildest dreams will come true. We live in the age of crowdsourcing, crowdfunding, and crowd ratings. Don’t accept rides from strangers…unless they have five stars and a sticker on their window.
Business is about winning
Success in business is not about rubbing shoulders with the competition. It’s not like you can all hold hands and cross the industry finish line together. The idea is to be first; to be the leader.
If all you’re doing is following the herd, how do you expect to win?
If Henry Ford followed the herd, he’d have made faster horse-drawn buggies. If Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak had followed the herd, they’d have made snazzier business computers. If Martin Cooper (inventor of the cell phone) followed the herd, he’d have made phones with longer cords.