The Grackle and the Quail

grackleNature offers so many metaphors for innovative service.  I was doing a keynote in Scottsdale and elected to go a couple of days early and stay at The Boulders in Carefree.  Armed with my cell phone and laptop, I sat on the patio next to a gorgeous lawn and duck pond.  I witnessed the territorial contest between the Grackle and the quail.

The Grackle is a large black bird that enjoys sitting in trees and being obnoxiously noisy.  Their dissonant cry can be heard a block away. Grackles look like a common black bird someone has stretched too long. They do no foraging but instead wait for others to discover and then plot how they will dominate the lawn. They assume they have privileges everywhere and show no respect for territory.

The Arizona quail is actually the Gambel’s quail and is stunningly attractive and unique.  They have a distinctive topknot on their head with copper colored feathers.  When a Grackle invades their terrain, they seem initially unimpressed but then unexpectedly startle the Grackle causing it to retreat.  What is amazing is the ease with which they allow all other birds; and even rabbits, to share their marketplace for food.

Too many service providers act more like a Grackle.  They tree watch like spectators more interested in what to copy than what to create.  They loudly announce their presence through noisy promotion with little real substance.  And they aggressively invade the marketplace without finesse or tact.  Innovative service providers, like the quail, enjoy surprise and charm.  They are willing to share the marketplace with those that play fair, but outmaneuver competitors that compete purely on form and not substance.   Competitive advantage rarely is sustainable through loud aggression and noisy marketing.  What can you do to create an edge in your marketplace through ingenuity and collaboration?

Photo Credit: Flickr via Mary

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