As an entrepreneur or an entrepreneurial business, there is nothing better than creating a new product or service and turning it into a blockbuster commercial success. This theme is extremely prevalent in technology. It’s always a rush towards “the new”.
There are, however, some fundamental problems with this: It is extremely difficult to create something completely new and first-movers have a 47% failure rate.
In my discussion with Kudakwashe Kuzviwanza, a Consultant at Delta Partners, he explained that there is a ‘copy-paste’ culture to Zimbabwean technological advancement. This apparent “lack of innovation” is often frowned upon by people in countries that have thriving tech-innovation ecosystems such as South Africa or Kenya, but there is wisdom in moving second.
First movers pave the way
Dr. Strive Masiyiwa (Zimbabwe's 1st Billionaire) explained it perfectly in his book ‘How to Build a Multi-Billion Dollar Business’: “There is another path to success, and this is called the ‘fast follower’. There are a lot of organisations who have achieved success through their ability to see what others have done, and then moving quickly to do the same thing. Steve Jobs did not invent anything new. He innovated around ideas that had been there all along.
Bernard of Chartres put it this way during the 12th century - he pointed out that “We see more and farther than our predecessors, not because we have keener vision or greater height, but because we are lifted up and borne aloft on their gigantic stature.”
In short: “None of the market leaders in technology were the first movers” ~ Business Insider.
Perfect fast follower positioning
I think Zimbabwe is poised to be Africa’s fast follower. Research shows that fast followers suffer a failure rate of only 8% as opposed to first movers who suffer a failure rate of 47%. Besides having a lower statistical failure rate, Zim would be able to enjoy
1. The flexibility to adjust and develop finely tuned customer solutions.
2. The advantage of learning from first movers mistakes.
3. The use of existing infrastructure and advancements to overcome barriers to entry.
Without MySpace, we would not have Facebook; without Motorola, we would not have iPhones; without Yahoo, we would not have Google. I have my money on Zimbabwe's positioning as one that enables them to take hold of the baton passed on by those who've already paved the path.
Writer's bio - Zukiso Diko