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Being First by Being Third

Postado por Fabiano Coura em 21/06/11 as 20h41

From Malcolm Gladwell Seminar @ Cannes Lions 2011

Malcolm Gladwell is an amazing storyteller, so we couldn't expect less from him than a nice provocation during his session. As a way to illustrate how important it is to think about innovation and not only about invention, he brought us back to the history of Xerox and its amazing inventions lab, led at that time by many of the most important thinkers and Ph.Ds in our industry.

They invented the PC, the "Windows" interface, and the mouse, among other important things that are still part of our everyday lives. They were able to predict the evolution of personal computing and the networks, but they were not able to be the first to bring all of these things to market. The history changed when this young entrepreneur, Steve Jobs, went there for a tour in what they called Xerox Park, and was amazed by everything he experienced. He went back to his small start-up in Cupertino, where a bunch of engineers were designing some of the first Apple products, and immediately changed their direction. Jobs was not only able to mimic, but to improve many things he saw during that visit - from the icons he saw on the interfaces, to the usability on the manipulation of the windows. In 1979, Jobs and his team were able to bring their product to market, beating everyone else to it.

A strong culture of invention has passed by a culture of implementation. Apple wasn't actually first in anything, in the same way that Google wasn't the first search - there was Altavista and Yahoo! on this arena - and in the same way that there were Friendster and MySpace in a time before Facebook. Through observation, Google designed a system far faster and simpler than the ones that precede it. Through observation of public experimentation, Facebook realized that online social networks weren't about dating or music, but about an enhanced way to share and consume information - a whole new way that can't compete with all of the information platforms that we still have today. They realized that it is in tweaking that they found where the value lies.

And it's more than proved: in today's reality you just can't build a business by being late. Ideas are also becoming commoditized, which is proven by a number of small agencies that are being listed on the shortlists here at Cannes. That is why we should work as a perpetual start up, and that is an important privilege that we should leverage, especially in our new offices, like the one I'm working at now in São Paulo. That's why we should focus on moving quickly from ideas to prototypes and then to the final product. We know that a 100% culture of invention doesn't always combine with a culture of implementation, but it is clear that profits perfectly combine with doers more than with thinkers.

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