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Sep 07

Who will be your first follower?

Applying Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy

Watch the three-minute video that shows how the "first follower" turns the "lone nut" into a leader.  This is far more than an entertaining video. It contains some powerful lessons for hi-tech companies trying to introduce a new technology.

Note the importance of the first follower.  This prompts some important questions:

  1. Where will you find your first follower?
  2. Who would be your ideal first follower?
  3. Why will you be followed?
  4. How will you overcome that initial reluctance to be the first one to respond?

Note that once the "first follower" has joined the "lone nut", the bystanders start to take notice. It takes less courage to be the second follower and before you know it, there is a huge crowd. So is this all that needs to happen? How can you apply this to the B2B market?

The point to stress here is that the "lone nut" is not offering anything of value, nor is he responding to any problem. It probably did not matter which person had the courage to be the first follower. In the B2B market, the influence of the first follower is crucial to gaining momentum and stimulating the Tipping Point, described so well by Malcolm Gladwell.

If you are trying to attract interest in a new technology, you must have some clear point of differentiation and be addressing a business problem.  Offering a great solution to problem companies do not think they have is seldom a route to glory.


Geoffrey Moore's book "Crossing the Chasm" describes the "Technology Adoption Life Cycle", which is also known as the "Diffusion of Innovation Model".  Your first follower is likely to be an "Innovator". So far so good, but what attracts the Innovator may not attract the "Early Adopter" and will be of no interest to the Late Majority.

As you get ready to cross each chasm, you need to rethink:

  • what you are offering
  • what need you are now addressing
  • which companies and which people you would most like to attract
  • how to stimulate interest
  • how to turn interest into an order.

For example, Early Adopters actively seek "disruptive technology", whereas the Late Majority want incremental improvements. What excites one group will install fear in another.  I recall the head of R&D of a European hi-tech manufacturer proudly showing off all he had achieved over his 30-year career. Each one represented an incremental improvement to a complicated production process. The message I was conveying was "that is fantastic, but we can help you replace all of this with a far simpler process". Put more simply "bring in the bulldozers next week". It will come as no surprise that this did not happen.

How will you find your first follower?

Simon Fawkes
Accredited Mindshop Facilitator
Business to Markets Ltd