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In my last blog post, I mentioned the three forms of value in a commercial transaction: Technical, Organizational and Personal.

 

This trilogy of values reminds me of one of my favorite books, The Discipline of Market Leaders by Michael Treacy and Fred Wieserma. The big message in this book is that no company can succeed by trying to be all things to all people. A company must find the unique value that it can provide to their chosen market either through product leadership, operational excellence or customer intimacy — a simple rule to follow, yet an achievement few can boast of.

 

Mr. Treacy writes, “Companies that push the boundaries of one value discipline while meeting industry standards in the other two, gain such a lead that competitors find it hard to catch up.” To beat out the competition, companies must not only innovate but truly understand the market they have chosen to serve.

 

I love the story behind GoPro, a company that manufactures small, waterproof digital cameras. This product solves a unique problem in a niche market. Nicholas Woodman, creator and CEO of GoPro, looked to satisfy the needs of the active photographer. An avid surfer with a passion for photography, Woodman wrote the initial patent draft while on a three month surfing trip in California — in an old VW van no less! Not only had he experienced the problem first hand, Woodman did some extensive research and found that quite a lot of people want to take pictures while performing a difficult task.

 

Today, GoPro is a great example of achieving product leadership by solving a specific problem within a niche market that had been overlooked. Now like all manufacturers and distributors, GoPro must tackle the challenge of sourcing and moving their product while meeting customer expectations and generating profits. Having established product leadership in their chosen market niche, they must meet industry standards in the other two disciplines: operational and personal (customer intimacy).


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