We are surrounded by sameness in our lives. Commercial institutions (you could call them “companies”) of all kinds succeed in delivering the status quo: hotels, airlines, banks. The list is endless. Embracing “conventional wisdom” appears to be the conventional wisdom.
So what makes a market? Or rather, makes a new market – breaking old markets? You could say it’s someone who “thinks outside the box.” Steve Jobs said that he didn’t need to do market research to know that people wanted and needed the iPhone.
That’s fine. But I think Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance touches on this in a beautiful passage:
It wasn’t like other people’s thinking… . It was at a level at which everything shifts and changes, at which institutional values and verities are gone and there is nothing but one’s own spirit to keep one going. His early failure had released him from any felt obligation to think along institutional lines and his thoughts were already independent to a degree few people are familiar with. He felt that institutions such as schools, churches, governments and political organizations of every sort all tended to direct thought for ends other than truth, for the perpetuation of their own functions, and for the control of individuals in the service of these functions.
In a service industry, must operations always get fixed because a customer experienced something wrong before the owner/operator realized it was a problem? Must all situations be approached according to “the way I was trained” as opposed to how the customer actually experiences it?
When book proposals and startup ideas are repeatedly rejected, what makes the creator keep trying? I think a major reason is because they know they are right, and it’s because they are pursuing truth.
Things are changing all the time, and they always have. Behaviors, expectations, methods of distribution. The market breakers – market makers – are the ones pursuing the truth underlying all our human experiences and interactions. In this context, if “insanity” can be defined simply as an aberration from the conventional wisdom, then that’s a necessary ingredient to finding the next best thing that the market unknowingly craves.