04 March 2014

Go Beyond Darwin's Survival of the Fittest to Eco-Value-Chain for Innovations

The path to success is generally taught to be improving your ability until Darwin comes out with the Survival of the fittest. But reality is about Eco-value-chain of complementary survival. For your next innovation, you should work backward from the Eco-value-chain.
We started life by believing I need to be faster and stronger than others to win. We have the famous Hokkien Song of 要拼才会赢 'Must fight in order to Win'. This is too self-focus and neglect the external situational factors.

Darwin told us about the survival of the fittest and not of the strongest.
The quote is:
  • "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.
  • In the struggle for survival, the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals because they succeed in adapting themselves best to their environment."
Darwin is not the first to discover this. Solomon, about 3000 years earlier, wrote in Ecclesiastes Chapter 9:11  I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill, but time and chance happened to them all.  See Business Strategies and Decision Making According to the Bible for more.

So we move from 1-My Ability to 2-My Adaptability to the Environment.

A more systematic study of the laws of nature shows us that spices that survive better than others are those that complement others in the eco-systems cycles or chains. 

The key to growth is then in how we complement or add value to the others that enhance the growth of the chain. Making others richer makes us richer. Making ourselves richer at the expense of others will bring our own downfall! We can see such downfall in business.

Consider the early days of Sony-Betamax vs JVC VHS video-tape format. Betamax was technically superior to VHS in terms of video and sound quality. But JVC licenses its technology to any manufacturer that was interested while Sony kept Betamax to itself. The result was greater adoption and cheaper VHS format. Another major key is the content providers. Consumer will buy the format that the content providers choose. Recognizing the value of the eco-chain explained the success of Apple iPod mp3 players against the technically better Creative Techology and other MP3 players that were released before Apple. iPod player is not just a mp3 player but a key link in the value-chain of $1 a song on the go from the music content providers, the iTunes software for selection and download and payment of songs, through a Mac/PC computer (at the beginning. Later iTouch do away with the need for the PC) and to the player. It broke the need to buy 20+ songs packed in a CD format at $20 for only 1 or 2 songs that you liked. It also explained why Nokia lost the Smart-Phone war.

So we from 1-My Ability, to 2-My Adaptability, to 3-My Augmentation to the Eco-Value-Chain.

For the new business that you want to start, you must first find the value-chain of the part of your business. Then you work backwards as to where you can contribute best to the chain. Then at last, what differentiating advantage that your abilities bring. It is not just something you can do, but something others find it difficult or not worth their while to do.

Hope this help you to re-think your business and enable you come out with innovative offerings.

Lim Liat (c) 4 March 2014





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