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Chapter 1. The Case for Creativity > The Risky Business of Playing It Safe

1.1. The Risky Business of Playing It Safe

In this new democratized world, competitive advantage has a short shelf life. We've entered the Age of Creativity, in which each incremental gain is zeroed out as global competitors quickly copy and adapt. There are four factors fueling the creativity arms race:

  1. Commoditization. In the words of casino magnate Steve Wynn, "What used to draw a wow 15 years ago wouldn't draw a yawn today."[] Easily accessible and free online information makes new knowledge a readily available commodity, which can leave price as the sole differentiating factor among competitors. You can't grow a career or business strictly by being the lowest bidder.

  2. Speed. Complete business cycles that used to span a decade or more now play out in a matter of months. It's no longer about the big beating the small. Now it is the fast beating the slow.

  3. Low barriers. In the past, bringing a great idea to market might require significant resources—a huge outlay of capital, a factory, raw materials, labor contracts, and distribution. Those barriers made competitors fewer in number and easier to identify. Today, a kid in his college dorm room with a high-speed Internet connection launches Facebook and becomes a billionaire in twenty-four months.

  4. Lower costs. Globalization, outsourcing, and an intense cost-cutting mentality in the business world have driven costs to their lowest levels in history. The price war has now become just one skirmish on a much more complex battleground.


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