When you bob around on the Tube in London you’re constantly reminded to “mind the gap”. It’s so frequently stated (at every stop) that it’s become a meme. The gap of course is the space between the train and the platform, which can be hazardous if you aren’t watching where you’re walking, ie: minding the gap. Reading an article in Harvard Business Review earlier this week, I read this twist on that phrase, which struck me as profound:
“Jon Buchan, the director of London-based Charm Offensive, a creator of innovative cold emailing campaigns, applies [Stef] Curry’s disruptive basketball strategy to business: “Find a gap,” Buchan writes. “A chink in the armor. What is nobody else doing? Why is nobody else doing it? Would it be beneficial to get good at it? If so, try it.” … Figuring out what no one else is doing, and then doing it well, offers the greatest possibility of success, rapid acceleration, and hyper-growth.” – Whitney Johnson, “Reinvigorate Your Career by Taking the Right Kind of Risk”, Harvard Business Review
Finding the gap, what nobody else is doing, certainly applies in business, and every progressive, forward-looking company continually pokes and prods their market looking for the gaps. Find a need, fill it and differentiate from the crowd. This is blue ocean versus red ocean territory, where a little elbow room offers room to grow something special. It lets you leverage your company’s strengths without getting nipped at by the sharks.
Finding the gap, I believe, is about being aware, focused, open-minded, decisive, courageous and determined. Developing better writing skills (combined with the consistency of effort in doing it every day), reading with purpose, seeing more customers, listening and observing with focus and earnestly working for a higher purpose, I believe, give you the necessary gap radar skills. Combined it seems to adds up to a formula for both figuring out what no one else is doing, and then doing it well. Because doing it well… that’s the real trick, isn’t it? Don’t just find the gap, fill it with value.