Saul Alinsky's controversial teachings changed slightly to apply to competitors and the business of technology. The first of two parts.
Leave it to a socialist to define competitive advantage.
You can't buy competitive advantage from a vendor. Add it to your list of red flags in sales decks, along with those awful slides with clients' logos -- you know, the ones that vendors update to include your competitors. Ah, yes, we can all have the same competitive advantage. That makes sense.
You also can't hire your way to competitive advantage. Not if you hire the best and brightest from within your industry. Not when the exploratory conversation with the job candidate has elements of "come over here and do what you did over there. And bring your team."
Facebook was finally able to woo the MySpace executive into joining the company. What a coup. Pardon me while I Google "hubris." Or maybe I should Bing it.
A perfect segue to ...
Rule 4: Make your competitors live up to their own book of rules.
Remember Rule 1's point about Google, Facebook, Apple and their competitive brand message? They're smarter, younger and prettier than us?
There have been other high flyers that staked those same claims. Long before Googlers were the smartest people in the room, that honor went to our friends at Enron. Remember the hip innovative youngsters at Atari? And what brand name meant more to style than Halston?
Sticking to their book of rules led to their collapse. The lack of humility crushed Enron. The inability to innovate, to reward and retain its engineers aged Atari. And the tragic loss of charismatic leadership devastated Halston.
"You can kill them with this," Alinsky wrote, "for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity."
Force Google to keep being the smartest people in the room as they grow bigger and bigger and watch them turn into Ballmer's Microsoft. Force Facebook or that amazing new cloud startup with the 6-year-old CEO to stay forever young and watch them lose their demographic. Force Tim Cook to live up to the ghost of Steve Jobs and say hello to the iQuit.
Perfect segue No. 2 ...
Rule 5: Ridicule is a company's most potent weapon.
If you need this one explained to you, shut down Safari and ask Siri to hold you. Close.
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