If you want to

You have to


If you want to differentiate yourself you must actually


Than Your Competition
Dominate Your Market

When radical innovation is necessary, most people are only interested in baby steps. Most people think that by tweaking a little here and there, they can affect meaningful change. This flawed thinking is exactly why most people never achieve excellence or dominance in their chosen field of endeavor.

Recognizing the need for change often comes too late. Those who dominate their markets tend to innovate early and often. It seems that the world of business is divided into a few key categories:

Innovative Pioneers
Early Adoptors
Secondary Adopters
Late Adopters
The Soon-to-be-Extinct Non-Adopters

Innovative Pioneers

Someone once said that the pioneers take most of the arrows. From my own experience, I can attest to that statement as generally accurate. Most successful Innovative Pioneers will agree with me when I say this: The secret to becoming a successful Innovative Pioneer lies in one’s agility and mastering the skill of dodging the arrow. The pay off is this: Most of the best land (market position) generally goes to the Innovative Pioneers. As an added bonus, the pioneers tend to achieve the greatest fulfillment because of their ability to overcome the obstacles which stop the less resourceful or courageous.

The people most prone to this uncommon behavior will often explain themselves this way: “I just had to do it. This new direction was just too important and necessary. I figured someone had to do it, and it seemed that nobody else was trying or at least pursuing the best path. I realized that it was my destiny.”

I was discussing this phenomenon with two of my friends, noted psychologists Stephen Goldbart and Joan DiFuria, over dinner recently. Our unscientific conclusion was this: We think it may be genetic. Perhaps this would explain why Innovative Pioneers just can’t seem to stop innovating. They rarely “retire” from their innovative behavior.

Early Adopters

Being able to recognize a trend or new path early and then act upon it is a well proven means of obtaining major market share. While generally not quite as effective as being an Innovative Pioneer, the pay off is usually quite high with the primary risk being whether or not you are early enough.

Early Adopters can often benefit by following the track records or results from the pilot programs of the Innovative Pioneers. In some cases, they do more than just mimic what the Innovative Pioneers have done. Sometimes Early Adopters interject some innovations of their own. This usually produces one of three predictable outcomes.

Failure to catch the Innovative Pioneer
Comparable market share with the Innovative Pioneer
Market differentiation and superior market position to the Innovative Pioneer

More often than not the results is A. The greatest likelihood for obtaining market dominance rests with the Innovative Pioneers. Secondary market share almost always goes to Early Adopters.

Secondary Adopters

A bit slow on the uptake, these are the companies and people who are often found uttering these words “Oh yeah, we can do that too!” or perhaps, “We’re just about to introduce a new offering which will eat into their market share.”

As a consumer, which company message is most compelling to you?

Innovative Pioneers: “We have reinvented the universe of thought and service. We can provide you with that unique innovation that matters most to you.”


Early Adopters: “We may not have been first to introduce this new thing but we are committed to doing it better than the innovators. Our offering is expected to roll out just six months from now!”


Late Adopters: “Our message is this: we really care about our clients well being so we don’t just jump right into new areas. We wait until the other guys work out all of the bugs, then we roll out an even better platform. Eventually, we will be even better than the competition.”


Non-Adopters: “What’s all the hoopla about? We have been doing business this way for a long time. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Change is a risky scheme.”

Late Adopters

Always playing catch up, these people and companies are extremely unlikely to achieve dominance in any positive context. Playing the role of “always late to the party guy,” or how about, “our market is those who root for the underdog,” must make life and business harder than it has to be.

These organizations are comprised of ‘C’ level people, content to dominate those market niches least attractive to ‘A’ level professionals or consumers. Perhaps their motto should be “The relentless pursuit of mediocrity.”


We didn’t get where we are today by following every trendy idea that comes along. The last time we changed our platform (1985) it took enormous effort to get the changes past or legal department. No one in their right mind would want to fight that battle again.

We think our clients want consistency. Although we haven’t conducted client focus groups to review “outside the box” cutting-edge ideas, we are confident our clients won’t like them. Besides, we invested a fortune on branding so we don’t have a budget for reinventing ourselves.

To our clients, mangers and all of our employees, our goal is to the “The one constant in a sea of change.”

During the heyday of Apple computers, its head of marketing, Guy Kawasaki, took an innovative approach to developing ground-breaking products. What he discovered through focus groups of various consumers was this: Most consumers cannot articulate what it is that they truly want or need.

Back in those days the common goal of all hardware and software companies was to produce an offering that was truly “user friendly”.

Virtually every focus group from nearly all types of consumers listed “user friendly” as their greatest need. Unfortunately, none of the consumers polled could really define the translation of “user friendly” into a specific type of product.

Fortunately for Apple, they stumbled upon a small “garage type” company that had come up with the exact embodiment of user friendly. Unfortunately for all of Apple’s competitors, nobody at any company except for Apple thought the mouse was a viable idea.

After all, the guys who invented the mouse were just a tiny little company. There was no way some dinky little company could accomplish what the big wise established companies hadn’t been able to do.

One truth that a lot of large companies struggle to recognize is this: The greatest innovations throughout history almost never come from within large companies. Apparently large corporate environments generally fail to encourage innovative or entrepreneurial thinking and behavior.

Recently, I told some top managers at a huge conglomerate that their “baby steps” approach to innovation would fail. Turning an aircraft carrier in a new direction takes too much time and distance. Instead of trying to reinvent the aircraft carrier through baby steps, I suggested this alternative:

First, launch a seal team assault that attracts the very best, strongest, boldest people from within your ranks. Next, empower them with their own assault ship (company with equity) so they can go places and do things which the aircraft carrier cannot. During its growth phase, the seal team can call upon the full resources of the aircraft carrier. This seal team will also recruit the strongest, boldest, best people away from your current competition. Thus you will have joint ownership in an elite force in the marketplace. This elite company will dominate elite markets.

This would be not only more efficient and timely than baby steps, it would also be far more effective. In those rare cases where large companies achieve tremendous innovation and true market dominance, this is the approach that is deployed. The common name for such an approach is “skunk works”.

Unfortunately, what most large companies do in order to grow is this: They merge with other large non-innovative companies then pronounce “Our latest merger and acquisitions prove how innovative we are.”

There is a technical scientific term for such thinking and behavior. Here it is: Dysfunctional. For some strange reason, dysfunctional behavior is all the rage these days. It is prevalent in politics (politicians and voters), religions, corporations, charities and all levels of government.

My theory is that the entire infrastructure of the world is held together by a relatively small percentage of the world’s population. The next time you look at your own company, circle of friends, business contacts, church, etc., ask what is the percentage of people strong enough, bold enough, competent enough and committed enough to be great at anything?

Market dominance and truly great innovation is often preceded by the bold, courageous, visionary, persistent behavior of a small handful of people. Daring to strive for greatness or more, to be the best at something always brings out the jealous, scornful naysayers. They may be the greatest impediment to successful innovation. Every aircraft carrier has too many of these kinds of people at all levels. That’s why the seal team is the best choice to snapping up market dominance.

Author's Bio: 

Bruce R. Wright is the inventor of Macro Strategic Planning® also known as the Universal Success Formula. He is an internationally respected mentor, entrepreneur, author and teacher. Through his book, The Wright Exit Strategy; Wealth: How to Create it, Keep it and Use it, his speeches and private mentoring, Bruce has empowered thousands of people to take control of and optimize their lives and businesses.

Bruce is best known for “getting in the trenches” with his clients, implementing key strategies and action steps that produce tangible results. Helping people achieve greater success, fulfillment and peace of mind are some of Bruce’s greatest passions.