As an entrepreneur or an entrepreneurial business, there is nothing better, than creating a new product or service, that no one has ever seen before, and turning it into a blockbuster commercial success.
There is however another path to success, and this is called, the “fast follower”:
There are a lot of organizations who are successful, through the ability to see what others have done, and then moving quickly to do the same thing; this is the “fast follower”.
If you look at great companies like Microsoft or Apple, they are not necessarily the first to come up with a new idea. They are “fast followers”; if they see someone doing something, that has potential, they either buy it or build something similar; only they do it better.
Our company did not invent “Mobile Money” (Ecocash), it was invented in Kenya, by Safaricom. As soon as I heard about it, I did two things:
-first I checked to see, if there was a patent protecting the idea. It turned out they had not protected it.
-I then put a top team to research the concept.
The key to being a “fast follower”, is the ability to move with lightening speed.
The Chinese are masters of the “fast follower” model:
When they see something in the West, like Yahoo, Facebook, Uber, Google, their entrepreneurs quickly follow, to build their own.
A Fast Follower, never allows a competitor to settle in, on a new innovation without a response. I can tell you, that if we do not respond, it is usually because we do not think much of the new product or service. Otherwise, we try to respond hard and fast, using better management and execution skills than our competitor, with devastating efficiency. It’s part of the game.
So next time you see a new product or service, in another market, don’t just admire:
Be a “fast follower”.
To be continued…
“Last week members of the Africa Progress Panel, met with Chancellor Angela Merkel, at her office in Berlin. Other members included, Mr Kofi Annan (Chairman), Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Bob Geldof, Mr Peter Eigen of Transparency International and Ms Caroline Kende-Robb, Executive Director of Africa Progress Panel.