The world today revolves around benchmarking; determine who does something really well (as judged by the experts) — call them best in class — and copy them.
The objective of benchmarking: to improve some aspect of your organization or your life based on the experience of others.
In business, benchmarking has been useful in improving process related issue — billing, ordering, fulfilment, human resource methods and the like. In one’s personal life, benchmarking might help in matters such as physical fitness routines, yoga practices and school courses to take.
But at the end of the day, although benchmarking may result in productivity or efficiency improvements, it does little to help either the organization or individual stand out from the crowd.
If everyone copies best in class how can specialness ever be created? All you get is a crowd of bench-markers who all share something in common.
Creating something that is unique and unmatched by others can’t be done by copying anything or anyone. Strategic advantage can’t be achieved by doing what other organizations do; a unique persona cannot be created by copying how others conduct their lives.
The lure of benchmarking is that it’s relatively easy and generally humans like easy stuff. And we also like to fool ourselves into believing that what is easy to do will somehow make us special.
The truth is that copycats are not special; they are their own herd.
I know this sounds axiomatic, but uniqueness is not spawned by copying what other do. The source of innovation and creativity to stand out is the incessant — almost subconscious and involuntary — drive to do things differently than everyone else.
Here are some descriptors of individuals who spend their life trying to be the ONLY ones that do what they do: crazy, delirious, contrarian, edgy, weird, borderline, careless, risky, absurd, eccentric, freaky, funky, creepy and eerie.
The point is, highly creative people don’t attract standard adjectives explaining who they are and how they approach problem solving.
If you’re a normal person and want to be abnormal because it will help make you more creative, here are 5 things you can do.
Never benchmark anything again
You need to dispel the notion that is the antithesis of being different, and that is copying. This means never asking “What do they do?” as a means to doing something creative.
Copying is the straight jacket that will forever prevent you from coming up with something truly new and different. — Roy Osing
Bury the copycat. Have a funeral for it and say goodbye.
If you can’t rid yourself of the copycat beast you will NEVER be capable of generating an original thought.
Try doing a 180
A simple way to deviate from what everyone else is doing is to ask: “What if I were to go in the opposite direction to common belief?”.
This essentially declaring that whatever the crowd does you will do the opposite. If you start out with a contrarian view, you are at least able to moderate it to something less extreme — but still different.
The 180 starting point is critical to a creative mindset; without it, crowd forces will suck you in to their mediocre and commonness.
This is one of my favourite examples of going against the flow with an outrageous proposition for customers. I’m not advocating it, but it is one example of a thought process that bucks the trend.
I this scenario let “What if I were to go in the opposite direction?” guide your ways.
Hang around weirdos
Not everyone has the same take on stepping out of the crowd; creative people have their own fingerprint on an approach they find that separates them from those around them.
To find your BE DiFFERENT signature, venture out and discover people who live on the spectrum between “normal” and special; between people who are average and those who are unlike no other. They’re around us if only we pay attention.
If you’re going to benchmark anything, benchmark weird because I guarantee that in the process of following their ways you will discover a sliver of what they do that you can twist to make it your own.
Follow your feelings
The world operates more on feelings than ever before. People buy things on the basis of how they feel about a supplier and the engagement experience they have with them.
They actually expect the product to work the way the manual says; the actual product or service is a commodity where generally price separates competitors in the short run.
The reason to choose one supplier over another doesn’t depend on their product portfolio.
The only thing that differentiates competitors in the long run is their brand — the value they consistently provide which, in the case of major market leaders who perform consistently, is a feelings oriented attribute.
So use how people would feel as the main criteria for deciding whether one of your new ideas might work. Let your your intuition trump your logic.
Do stuff with no end game in mind
Activity rather than purpose may be the best guide to follow.
The problem with having a specific destination in mind, is that you engage your logic to try and figure out how to reach it. And as we all know, once our left brain is engaged, it doesn’t like to consider a myriad of possibilities once it lands on its primary route to achieve the goal.
I was infatuated with The Inner Game of Tennis at one point in my past.
The premise offered by the author was that it is almost impossible to be a good tennis player if you allow your mind to control how you play the game.
Trying to return a ground stroke to your backhand has a high probability of not succeeding if you think “Rats, here comes another shot to my backhand! I know I’m going to screw it up!”
Well guess what? Your control side acknowledges your weakness and gets in the way of your body reacting to the shot and indeed your mind’s prediction comes true!
If you can unhook from your controlling left brain and let your body do what it is naturally equipped to do, your performance will improve immeasurably.So, focus on the activity not the end game and follow your gut.
These 5 proven ways will help you be a member of the abnormal herd.
They will guide your ways to a highly successful career. Give ‘em a try. They worked for me!