I’m shocked by Seth Godin’s latest post. For a guy who usually brings an insightful perspective, I’m stunned not only by the error of his logic, but also how he contradicts huge elements of his own brand completely.
Let’s recap. The basic premise of Seth’s post is that front runners can’t win because they can’t afford to be anything other than conservative and that that behavior causes them to lose. I get where he’s coming from and have seen plenty of examples of companies exhibiting exactly this behavior. But, there’s a fundamental flaw in his argument, one that I’ll get to in a second. Seth illustrates his point using presidential candidates, discussing how the frontrunner rarely wins. And this is where he springs the trap he’s set for himself. Seth creates a false dilemma, essentially claiming that only one company can win while everyone else loses. While it’s true that only one can win the White House, in business everyone can win. Equating business to running for president ignores how successful companies create new markets to differentiate themselves from their competitors. In fact, Seth himself encourages this behavior in "Purple Cow". And "Free Prize Inside".
Bottom line, don’t let folks put your decision in a box. There are always more than two options – whether you like the other options or not. At the same time, if you want help finding places where your competitors aren’t, check out "Blue Ocean Strategy." Presidential candidates wish they had this many options.