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Analogy of a Flock of Birds to Innovation and Intellectual Property Challenges
Have you ever sat in awe watching a local flock of birds as they make quick and abrupt changes in direction and the flock follows? When observing flocks of local birds you can immediately see that they are very different from flocks of migratory birds, as migratory birds fly in a straight line. It’s hard to say why the birds fly together in formation in local flocks and seem to challenge each other over who will lead the formation, but that seems to be what they’re doing. With long distance migrations it is obvious that they do this for the aerodynamic advantage.
Now, I’d like to take this analogy and offer you a thought. I’d like you to sit and think about that for a moment as I compare this to innovations and changes in any industry, as industry leaders seek positions with new innovations, research and development, and other companies follow. Sometimes the industry has a pretty good idea of where it’s going in the future, but doesn’t know exactly how to get there—or the exact intended destination—only that it will eventually get there.
Let’s look at Apple and its latest iPods, iPhones and iPads – you’ll have to admit that this is a lot of innovation for a single company in a short amount of time. It seems that just when you think there can be no new innovations, Apple comes up with something new. They are definitely innovators in the personal technology industry, personal computers and who knows what else in the future? Every time they innovate, the herd follows. Some of the other companies or birds follow very closely and try to imitate them almost exactly.
Other companies hang back a long time, take it easy without trying to fight for pole position, or keep up with them. Instead of the herd making a hard right turn, it can simply adjust slightly in its trajectory vector to catch up with them. In essence, the following companies, imitators and copycats of their innovations, patents and intellectual property expend much less energy, although one could loosely say that they are still part of the herd (industry).
Older or weaker birds do this more often, especially if they can’t keep up with stronger, younger birds, who may be showing off potential mates or competing for pecking order. You might ask which strategy is better? Flying in the wake of the leader and therefore in his slipstream like Lance Armstrong in the Tour de France, or falling back in the “Peloton” and flying less distance every time the herd turns in a different direction, he still makes it to the indie. fate with the rest of the birds.
If we look at Apple and its market capitalization, or a company like Google or even Microsoft at the time, we see that the innovators, if they can continue to innovate, usually win the game. In a flock of birds, the lead birds probably get to mate with the other birds of their choice, and remain at the top of the pecking order. Because of so much flying and hard work, they are also probably stronger, more physically fit birds, and that is also a benefit.
There will always be leaders in any industry or field, and there will always be leeches joining the ride. Some would say that the best strategy is to be the early bird, or to take advantage as often as possible using the “first to market theory”, and even then I would suggest that in these times of rapid prototyping, fierce personal technology. brand and marketing launches, that being first to market may not be wise or even safe. That’s fine, but we’ve noticed that many early movers in new technologies enjoy an advantage, but not always.
For every Apple, Google or Microsoft there are tens of thousands of companies, startups, venture capital funded innovative companies that are no longer with us. They were also the first in their market, they spent a lot of money branding and marketing, creating distribution channels, only for the older birds to copy their methods, innovations and imitate their prototypes; end
After all, they also landed at the destination, although less tired, with less money spent, and they had a lot of energy to partake of the profits, worms or food available at the destination in the market.
Lately, we’ve been seeing a lot of lawsuits between Apple and other copycat competitors. Many of these companies were overseas and either ripped off proprietary information, stole patents, or outright copied Apple products.
In China, most consumers think it’s crazy to pay full price for American products, when you can buy an exact replica or imitation for a tenth of the price. In fact, you would be considered reckless, stupid and unwise if you decided to do the right thing and buy the original instead of the fake copy.
This means that if you’re working for a company and you buy a legitimate Microsoft program or Apple product, you’d be considered stupid, and you might not be a very good manager with money, and therefore wouldn’t get promoted in your company; other employees would. actually laugh at you for your reckless decision to do the right thing. There is an inherent problem in the cultural differences between Americans and Chinese in that regard.
When we get into the pharmaceutical debates we see the same thing. In the US it costs a huge amount of money to buy certain types of drugs, but in places like Africa they buy knock offs from other places where they broke the patents produced the same chemical compound and use it instead, in fact in Africa they demand the drugs for free. This means that the company that spent the research and development, invested in the patents and went through the onerous FDA process and in the meantime spent hundreds of millions of dollars in some cases loses.
The copying company is rewarded for cheating, stealing and swindling intellectual property. However, if we bring this back to the “flock of birds analogy” we can see that this is very common in nature. Therefore, it can be reasoned that imitating is a perfectly natural thing to do. And even though we have patent and intellectual property laws in the United States, those companies, entrepreneurs, and other cultures don’t understand what we’re talking about.
Of course, as soon as we start borrowing their technologies it’s amazing how quickly they rediscover why patents and intellectual property rights are important. In many cases, if you can innovate, constantly stay at the forefront of technology and keep moving fast, you can lead the pack and become the winning bird. Yes, it takes a lot of energy to do it, and it’s pretty much the American way of doing it, but we’ll see that in the end the rest of the flock got to the awards, too, even though it was only some of the most innovative and strong birds that got them there.
If we want stronger birds (Eagles) we will have to reward successful innovation, not to the point where they become lazy, but to the point where they can benefit from research and development, without attracting a giant flock of followers. If we do not achieve this we will find fewer companies innovating and we will slow down the technological progression. If you’re against technology you might favor that concept, but if you’re for the advancement of humanity you can see why this is so important.
I would suggest that the next time you see a flock of birds flying around locally while squirming, you might think about the dynamics of innovation in the market, all the challenges we face in our world and what we need to do. to make sure the game is fair for all concerned. We must reward the leaders of the Flock if we are going to keep running the innovation time. Please consider all of this.
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