There is an inherent desire in us to be distinct, to stand out. There’s something ‘uncool’ about being a copy of another. Something interesting, though, is that we sometimes feel we’re different from our competition or those around us because we are doing something new and unique that someone else or another enterprise is already doing. It’s like teenagers trying to stand out yet looking exactly like their peers.
Some questions worth exploring:
Sometimes the reason enterprises do something is what separates them. For instance, two enterprises might manufacture the same product for different reasons; one to support the underprivileged and the other to make as much as they can for themselves. The products may essentially be the same but the motives not. Does this really make them different? Does this give a competitive advantage to the other?
Because of diverse opinions and approaches, the same end may be pursued by different means. Means have different by-products. Means matter; they determine “residue” on the way to results. Some means are destructive and others add value on the way to the ultimate goal.
“When” something is done can be a matter of motives. When can determine the difference it makes. Timing makes a difference. For instance, it is more pertinent and makes a greater difference to offer a helping hand when it is necessary. When all the work is done, it is no longer relevant.
The Bottom Line
“Being different” per se, is not enough as a goal. The ultimate goal of “being different” must be the reason for being different. Choose your own “different” but not for the sake of it. Does your “different” matter? Some things may matter to you but what ultimate difference do they make to the outside world? What impact does your enterprise make as a result of being or seeing itself as “different”. What impact do your different values make beyond the internal environment of your enterprise? Being different as a value does not matter if it is only upheld internally and does not make a difference in meeting need outside of your team’s context.
Every enterprise and leader must answer this question:
How different are we and, what difference does our being “different” really make?