“Create the Niche You Will Occupy”

In a nice post inspired from the classic TED talk from Malcolm Gladwell, Harry Connolly’s talks about the importance of experimenting in a guest post on Charlie Stross’ blog:

Another important point from the video is that consumers do not always know what they want. This isn’t exactly a revelation to readers, who are always discovering unexpected pleasures inside book jackets: Did I know I wanted to read a mash up of James Bond, Office Space, and HP Lovecraft? Hell no. But I did, very much so. I mention it because it’s something that should be said often. Readers don’t always know what they want. We should be trying new things constantly, just in case we come across our new favorite flavor, and good writers create the niche they will occupy.

Think about that for a second – he is saying that novelists, who invest a year or so into each book, should be trying new things constantly, just in case they work.

He’s right.

And if novelists can afford to experiment with something into which they invest so much time, effort and thought, surely you can afford to test out one small new idea that you think will make things better. Start small, and get the hang of experimenting.

Once you’re good at it, you can start thinking big: What space do you want to occupy? It can be a space in the market, a space in your job, a space in your life. Stross is right – we can create our own niche in any of these places.

So what will it be?

(and in case you’ve somehow missed it, the Gladwell talk is well worth watching)

Student and teacher of innovation - University of Queensland Business School - links to academic papers, twitter, and so on can be found here.

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3 thoughts on ““Create the Niche You Will Occupy”

  1. I’m not sure where to go with my comment on this one, suffice to say it’s got me thinking. Could it be this stunts the convergent stage of ideation? There is no single, “best” solution, rather multiple solutions?

    And where does this lead us when titanic corporations flood the market with sufficient variation to cause “analysis paralysis?”

    A bit fragmented, this, but thought I would share it’s got me thinking. Seems like something’s about to click. :)

  2. Interesting thoughts Brian. I guess there are a few different ways to approach it. I would view this approach as being more important in the stage between divergence and convergence – when you’re testing out ideas to see which one to settle on. Experimenting can definitely help with that.

    In terms of flooding the market, in some respects big corporations are doing that already, but more with services and sales offers than with physical products. Visa and Tesco are good examples of companies that experiment with 1000s of different sales offers to see which ones work best.

    So there are a few different ways to approach this idea.

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