The Wisdom of Miyagi

December 22, 2008  

Innovation SquishIn the Karate Kid, Mr. Miyagi once told his student Daniel, “Walk on road. Walk right side, safe. Walk left side, safe. Walk middle, sooner or later [makes squish gesture] get the squish, just like grape.”

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This fits nicely with my perspectives on innovating in tough times.  In my previous blog entries on how to make your products/services more affordable and accessible, I discuss why the middle of the bell curve is a dangerous place to be in these economic times.

I was just speaking with a client of mine and we had the same conversation.

His Fortune 50 company offers a commodity item, but is considered to be a premium brand.  They are never first to cut the price of their items (and they rarely cut prices), but they typically lead the charge in price increases.  Their brand is associated with high quality and high performance.  They are often focused on the right-hand side of the bell curve.  They have been doing exceptionally well.

Their competitors fall into two categories.

Some are white label, low price producers.  Budget brands. They provide a lower quality product that appeals to those with the least to spend.  These companies are in the left-hand side of the bell curve.  They seem to be doing particularly well now that people are looking for bargains.

Other competitors are in the middle of the bell curve.  They provide good product at a good price.  How are they going? These companies are being “squished”  by the low cost providers on one side and the premium brands on the other.  They are struggling.  My client wonders how many of these companies will survive.

The middle of the bell curve is a dangerous place to be these days.  If you aren’t careful, you might just get squished like a grape.

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4 Responses to “The Wisdom of Miyagi”

  1. Gareth Garvey on January 27th, 2009 6:20 pm

    Steve, Interesting thought! What happens as the products in the middle get squashed? Are we talking about a narrower road where we need to walk even closer to the edge to survive/succeed or is the middle ground recreated by new entrants?

  2. Stephen Shapiro on February 1st, 2009 2:11 am

    Gareth,

    Great question…

    Read http://www.steveshapiro.com/2009/02/02/squished-like-grape/ for my response.

  3. Squished Like Grape | Business Innovation Speaker and Consultant Stephen Shapiro on February 2nd, 2009 8:01 am

    [...] a previous blog entry, I discussed why the middle of the innovation bell curve is a dangerous place.  I even quoted The Karate Kid’s Mr. Miyagi who said, “Walk on road. Walk right side, [...]

  4. Is Your Career Doomed? Mine Might Be. | Business Innovation Speaker and Consultant Stephen Shapiro on February 19th, 2009 8:01 am

    [...] In a previous blog entry, when discussing the innovation bell curve, I talked about the wisdom of Mr. Miyagi in the Karate [...]