153 Monday Musings: Doing things differently and more
Shiv Khera brought this to the popular consciousness by declaring that winners did not do different things, but did it differently. I shall not get into whether this describes complete truth or a slice of it, instead i shall recount an instance that caught my fancy recently that bears some testimony to the above maxim.
We all travel by airlines and listen to the inflight demonstration of safety instructions with ennui and ill concealed disinterest. I would be very surprised if even a frequent flyer will be able to discern the difference between the instructions of any two airlines. The monotone of most announcers and their own apparent lack of conviction in what they are speaking does not help either. It is amidst this banality and undifferentiated mediocrity, one cannot help but notice the script of the IndiGo airlines during their in flight instruction. No wonder they currently rule the skies today and are the largest domestic carrier today. A classic case of doing things differently and benefiting from it.
The IndiGo announcer would among other things speak about the various languages that the crew speak on that give day. They would also comment that they knew that most of flyers would be disinterested to listen to them that we should still listen to them for our safety.
What amazes me is not that their script is different from others because of all the elements of the flying experience of an airline, the nature, quality and delivery of the inflight safety instruction is not a differentiator or even a determinant of customer satisfaction. It is precisely for its inherent mundane-ness and a very low pecking order of importance that makes IndiGo's effort to be different even there makes it so notice worthy.
My lesson goes a bit deeper than 'being different' - be different even when and where people do not expect you to be. Differentiation, the classical strategic concept applied to organisations, products or people has some obvious indicators. The world expects you to be different at the obvious levels. The question is, can we be, retain and sustain 'being different' at levels that no one expects us to be - levels where no one would notice except our own quality consciousness, our own sense of dedication. Probably one reaches that stage when you are not being different for being different sake, but when you create value from being different. Its not showmanship or brownies that you are accumulating, but delivering credible value.
Finally a word of caution - have something different before you claim it or else it will the case of the famous Maggi Hot and Sweet tomato sauce - its been more than a decade that i am searching for what is so 'different' in it - i guess even Javed Jaffri is still searching.