Being ahead of the curve

We often hear people talk about being ahead of the curve but what does it really mean and is it a good thing?

The ‘curve’ is the bell curve, a statistical model of standard deviation showing results that peak in the middle with fewer examples at either end (this is a massive oversimplification).
Adoption curve

Where you are on that curve will have a very different meaning depending on what’s being measured. If you’ve been tested for certain skills or a predisposition to contract a disease you may want to be way ahead on the first but way behind on the second.

As we’re on the DressCode blog, a place where innovation is celebrated with great enthusiasm, let’s look at what being ahead of the curve means in adopting new ideas.
Distribution curve
Distribution Curve: Everett Rogers, Diffusion of Innovations.

Being an early adopter

As a reader of this blog, you’re likely to be an early adopter. You’ll know the excitement of being in a small tribe of people happy to try things out. Maybe you were one of the first people in the world to pay for your purchases with your
DressCode CashCuff® Shirt.

Early Adopters are driven by three main motivations: Information, Novelty, and Status. (Forrester research 2009) You’re not driven by irrational urges to have the cool shiny new object, you’re not buying on emotional impulse. You’ll always research products or services and choose those that represent the way you want to appear to the world.

Early adopters are often asked for feedback. The customer experience actually shapes the direction of the product so not only do you get the kick of being an early adopter and ahead of the curve, you’re a crucial player in the development of the product. This has proved to be the case with DressCode, resulting in even more sustainable production methods being developed.

What if you’re the innovator?

If you’re the inventor or innovator you’re so far ahead of the curve you’re pretty much invisible at just 2.5% of the population. If you’re selling a product or a process it’s a high risk place to be. Most people aren’t ready to hear what you’ve got to say. They’re certainly not looking for your solutions because they don’t know they exist.

You rely on the early adopters, the people who get you, who get excited about something they didn’t know existed before you brought it to their attention. You rely on their feedback and you rely on them helping to spread the word.


Ann Hawkins DressCode event

So what’s the advantage of being ahead of the curve?

Paradoxically, the world sees success when ideas have been adopted by the majority and are no longer ahead of the curve and unfortunately, being first doesn’t always mean being best (see Facebook and Myspace). The true value in being ahead of the curve isn’t in being the first, it’s in being the best, keeping the loyalty of your early adopters even when competitors enter the market.

That’s just one of the reasons I’m so proud to be associated with DressCode Shirts. Thanks for reading, Ann

The Drive 6th birthday celebration, Thursday 12th May 2022, full details are here

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