Expert Advice

Different/Better not Better/Different

Patrick McIvor | February 18, 2014 | 2:49 PM
Patrick McIvor

Different/Better not Better/DifferentThis past weekend, I was sitting at home thinking about some of the recent trips and conversations I have had with people and one in particular had my mind going. I was at a party and a colleague asked my advice about approaching a salon with an idea. After sharing her idea, my response was, “It’s better, not different.” So quickly she recalibrated the idea with a new twist and again my response was, “It’s just better, not different.”

I think this is a major challenge for a lot of businesses and something many just can’t get. Better is not different, and many times better is just ok/better, not even better/great. It's like in the book “Good to Great,” the problem with good is it gets in the way of great and the problem with better is it gets in the way of different. When things are different/better, things change in dramatic ways instead of the baby steps better/different achieves. Thinking differently gets noticed; let's take a look at some classic case studies.

Car & Airplane

When I started thinking about classic examples of better/different and different/better the classic for me was transportation. I remembered a famous story about how Henry Ford once said after the invention of the car that if the people had been asked they would have wanted a faster horse instead. If you look at this from another angle, it could be because the car was better/different, not different/better.

Why? Well, the car replaced the horse because it was better at traveling over land at longer sustained speeds than a horse, which was great and was better in a different way as long as the surface was properly prepared (paved roads). But many times, and even sometimes in the present too, on surfaces that were not prepared, a car was just different, but not always the better way to travel across land. The airplane, however, was different/better because it didn't travel on land or sea, it traveled above making it able to travel in a way that traditional travel never could, not on land or sea, and it was different.

Radio & TV

Radio was better/different because it gave messages a voice to the text we had for years, from telegraph, to Morse code, smoke signals and even lights (one if by land two if by sea) radio gave the voice back to the message. Television was different/better, because unlike movies, television brought to life pictures with sounds into homes, allowing less to be lost in translation by combining a visual and audio experience in one that was live.

Walkman & iPod

I remember the first time we got a Walkman and how cool it was to be able to take the cassette out of the stereo and walk around hands-free (the other option at the time was carrying around a tape player or boom box) and listening to music. Even though the Walkman made music to-go, it still was just better, because it was still the same music, in the same order, for the same amount of time (60 or 90 minutes tapes were the standard). But the iPod was different/better because it was 1000 songs in your pocket, in any order you wanted, as many times as you liked - it was musical freedom!

Computer & Digital Mobile Device

It's funny here, because computers by definition compute, however, most of us rarely use our computers to compute heavy data or program something, most of us use computers in our lives to do tasks in automated and searchable ways. But, digital mobile devices changed the way we live life and for many of us, our lives would be hard to live without our mobile digital devices. F

rom phone, to email, directions, music, photos, video and apps that can do everything from reminding us of what we need to do to making sure everything is shut off at home, mobile devices put our lives into our own hands. This has changed our lives for the different. It’s still up for debate on the better.

Today, I think businesses, in particular, realize that better, when it is only different, is not necessarily better, just maybe more convenient. But, when different is better, well then the world can be changed and people notice. This year, I am so excited to be sharing ideas that will create different/better experiences for salon professionals, their businesses and guests. For a sneak peak at a different/better idea for coloring hair, don't miss me when I'm ON TOUR again with Goldwell/KMS California and the Arrojo Team - #GoldwellKmsArrojoOnTour.


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