Turn a Product Idea into a Movement. Lessons from the lone dancer.

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As I watched this video last night at Northwestern’s MSLOC program, I thought about the implications for leadership and for building innovative products here at Kronos. As you look at the first few second of the video, you may think…who is that crazy guy dancing. But look what happens next.

He has a first follower. That first follower dances with him and the lone dancer treats him as an equal. What is that first follower doing? He is publicly showing everyone how to follow the lone dancer. The first follower transforms the ‘crazy dancer’ into a dancer. Soon, others start to join and what starts as a single person dancing turns into a full scale dance movement.

Many of the lessons translate into how we, as product managers and thought leaders, must communicate.

  • First, innovative product vision and leadership requires courage and guts. At first, many will think you are crazy until they understand your vision. It takes some time. As in the video, people do not immediately jump in and start dancing. It takes some time.
  • As we build the vision for our products, it must be simple and easy to understand, even if many consider it initially to be ‘nuts’. Just like what we initially see as the ‘lone dancer’.
  • The first follower is key. Finding our first follower and having him show others how to understand our product ideas is critical. Look at the first follower and how he encourages others to join. The most under estimated part of getting buy in for your product ideas and vision is finding that first follower. That first follower will transform a ‘crazy idea’ into a ‘great idea’. In addition, that first follower shows others how to listen to the ‘crazy idea’ and helps them understand the idea.
  • It’s only when the first follower starts to dance and the next follower joins in, that it turns from an crazy dance into a dance movement. The more that join in, the faster the crowd grows and it turns into a true movement.

As product managers, when we build new innovative ideas, don’t under-estimate the value of finding that first follower. Embrace the first follower as equal in terms of helping you communicate your ideas and showing others the value of your ideas. The first follower will allow you to turn an innovative product idea into reality!