Here we have the common business wildebeest.

Ever watch one of those nature shows where the lions creep up slowly and nail a wildebeest from a herd of thousands clustered around a mud hole? The wildebeests remind me of most businesses.

The wildebeest will hang around the same diminishing mud hole and watch it dry up. As the herd gets more and more tightly packed around the diminishing resource, it gets easier and easier for the lions to pick them off. But do the wildebeests seek a new watering spot? Nope. Not until the hole goes dry.

The businesses pictured here are doing the same thing. They are competing for relief from the scorching sun under one tree. See the tree in the distance? No competition there. No wildebeests either.

As business wildebeests notice their own supply of new customers dry up, rather than try something new and remarkable, they’ll cut their prices to stay alive. On a still day you can hear them bellowing over the shrinking market and the long lost big customers. Many wildebeests will starve. The lions will get some. Some make it through the harshest season but are left weakened by the experience.

Don’t be a wildebeest. There is plenty of water and shade out there. But you have to separate from the pack to reach it. The brave will do so. They’ll start new herds and they will thrive.

Eventually, those once brave beasts will get fat and lazy and the lions will get them too.

If your mud hole is drying up, do something about it. If your business is large, get better management. If you are management, let your herd contribute ideas. I’ll bet they could surprise you. Can you set your ego aside to hear a new idea? Most CEOs can’t. That’s too bad.

Chris Reich, Author of TeachU’s Business Talk Blog
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