Different get’s noticed, then adopted

For 24+ years we have worked with schools and educational providers of all sizes and shapes to help solve their business problems of increasing student numbers or building a reliable well known brand in a very crowded and highly contested marketplace. As a moonlighting educator at Swinburne University, I talk to my students constantly about research... understanding the lay-of-the-land.. or whose-who-in-the-zoo before any mark is ever made on the page. Research is critical to finding out what your different idea or over arching message is. To be noticed you must offer a different idea to the marketplace. The idea must be something your audience values and is delivered in a visually compelling and easily digestible way. It must be different to what other similar providers in the marketplace are saying about themselves.

Let's talk about Dick Fosbury
Dick Fosbury was a high jumper. Not a vary good one, but he wanted to be an Olympian. You see prior to 1968 there were three ways of jumping over the high jump bar which were all very similar. You had the scissors, straddle and western barrel. Each of these methods has the jumper leading with their legs with the rest of the body following allowing the jumper to land on their feet. Each was a slight improvement on the other. These were the prevailing methods to high jump prior to 1968. In fact 97.4% of the high jumpers at the 1968 Olympics, a mere 51 years ago, utilised these three methods. Who then was that 2.6%? Who approached the problem of getting over the bar differently? Who was brave and courageous enough to be laughed at and scorned? Who was willing to take a chance?

Yep, that’s right it’s Dick!
In the 1968 Olympics, in Mexico, along comes Dick. Dick had a different idea. His idea was to jump backwards leaving him exposed to landing on his head. Thankfully technology had improved where thicker foam mats were now used and not sawdust. Dick then goes onto jump 2.24m and wins the gold medal and sets a new Olympic record. From this inflection point in time begins an unparalleled run of world records and gold medals using what became known as the Fosbury Flop. Dick’s method of high jump, back first, becomes the excepted world standard! From 1978 to this day every gold medal and every world record has been achieved by using the Fosbury Flop. Today 100% of all high jumpers use the Fosbury Flop. He wiped out three different methods considered to be the excepted norm for high jump. They are gone! Defunct! Lost to history. How things can change and be better by thinking differently about the problem.

So what was Dick’s impact on the sport besides wiping out the other methods?
Adoption! He posed a different idea. A new way to high jump. Others scoffed, but he was brave and courageous and because of that it was adopted by millions and now considered the only way to high jump. This is what a different idea does. It cuts through the boring over used prevailing idea and messaging of the “safe” because it is different and when shown to be effective is adopted.