Imitation: a sincere form of flattery but also a losing strategy


Illustration: @melanie.johnsson

Imitation is rife, I see it every day in business and seemingly every minute on social media. We're surrounded by it. Often there seem to be more copycats than innovators and leaders.

I can see why it’s appealing; it’s working for so and so, so why not me? The hard truth is that the imitation is never as good as the original.

No matter how much you study the formula, reverse engineer and try to replicate, you will never be the real deal.

This is because when you are reacting and responding, you are always playing catch up. You have set yourself up to play by someone else’s rules in someone else’s game.

They say fortune favours the brave; the blaze trailers, those willing to fail finding new solutions to old (and new) problems. That takes leadership, not imitation.

Sure, it’s important to be aware of your competitors so watch and analyse, but don’t copy. Instead, differentiate, and focus on what you do best.

It’s so easy to copy and anyone can do it but no everyone can genuinely solve customer’s problems. That takes leadership.


I wrote this post after a serial copycat struck again and I was angry. But now after a cathartic bashing out of this post on my keyboard, I feel more pity than anger. Sooner or later, they too will realise they’re playing a zero-sum game.