By: David M. Kashmer, MD MBA (@DavidKashmer)
Yes, you know Dasher (and Dancer and Prancer and Blitzen…) but why, when you think of Santa’s reindeer, is there really just one who’s top-of-mind? Here we explore what makes Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and what his classic tale can tell you about your startup business.
When the Montgomery Ward department store wanted to create its own coloring book in 1939, the tale of Rudolph was born. What is it about the character that has made Rudolph “the most famous reindeer of all”?
Rudolph is unique. Sure, he was laughed at. Aspersions were cast. Yet, like it or not, Rudolph has one very obvious feature that is ingrained into what he is.
Michael Porter, and other modern thinkers in business strategy, espouse this idea of competing on uniqueness. Look here. There was no way Rudolph could successfully compete with other reindeer on their terms. What reindeer could dance like Prancer, or pull that sleigh with the strength of Blitzen? (Ok, who knows if Prancer dances and Blitzen is strong–but, I mean, come on: Prancer and Blitzen!) The key is to find some difference that it can preserve. Just as Rudolph has a singular, unique feature, much of modern strategic thinking for startup businesses focuses on being something special…
…and being something unique, alone, is not enough. Rudolph’s nose generally got him laughed at until it did something incredibly useful. Once that red proboscis had saved the day, it didn’t seem so silly to have a large, red nose.
The ability to translate uniqueness into value is an important essence of building competitive advantage.
After the holiday season, when we all get back to work, it may be worthwhile to spend some time thinking of exactly what the “big red nose” is for you or your business.
How, exactly, will you design a valuable uniqueness into your startup? How will you find what it is that makes your team go to the front of the pack?
Until then, Happy Holidays from all of us at the blog.