The Galapagos Approach: Innovate, Don’t Imitate for Business Success

by Jeremy Tang

From Galapagos to the Boardroom: When Best Practices Lead to Extinction

Earlier this year I had the chance to explore the Galapagos Islands. It offered me an unexpected perspective on business survival. The islands, home to some of the most unique species on the planet, served as a living laboratory for understanding how following the herd can be a silent precursor to extinction.

The Irony of Best Practices
In the Galapagos, each species has carved out a niche through distinct evolutionary paths. There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to survival. This contrasts starkly with the business world, where ‘best practices’ are often synonymous with uniformity. Ironically, these practices can stifle innovation, leading companies to a precipice where differentiation is lost, and competitiveness dwindles. As a former head of search at Telstra, I had the privilege of working with several globally recognized marketing agencies. However, beneath their well-crafted brand facades, I discovered a disconcerting uniformity: they all approached challenges in remarkably similar ways. This homogeneity sparked a concern: how could we outperform our competitors if our strategies were cast from the same mold?

Diverging from the Herd
The pursuit of best practices can lead to a homogenized business ecosystem, where companies look remarkably similar to one another. True competitive advantage lies in divergent thinking – akin to a finch species developing a unique beak shape that no other possesses. It’s about finding and exploiting your niche, not just following the flock. My concerns dealing with traditional agencies at Telstra led to what is now Area Ten. I knew we needed to break away from the industry’s echo chamber of ‘best practices’. As Albert Einstein has said “The person who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd.”

Evolution, Not Imitation
The key takeaway from my Galapagos experience is the power of evolutionary business thinking. The goal is to evolve, not to imitate. By questioning the status quo and encouraging unique solutions, businesses can avoid the ‘extinction events’ of market irrelevance. In personal growth, this translates to forging your own path of continuous learning and self-improvement, rather than mirroring others. At Area Ten we continue to evolve for over a decade, building world leading technologies that are able to deliver SEO results at a speed and scale that are barely possible without it, using approaches that most people have never heard of.

In the natural world as in business, survival favors the adaptable and the innovative. Let’s take a page from nature’s playbook and remember that sometimes, the best practice is developing your own.

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