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Floppy Whale Explained

        posted by , June 03, 2013

What Is It?

A floppy whale is a heartbreaking work of staggering mediocrity — usually a failed project or product launch.

Definition: Floppy Whale

A floppy whale is a big, expensive attempt at innovation that flops.


Floppy whales have every advantage in the world (e.g. big research & development budgets). Nevertheless, they fail to produce anything innovative.

The usual suspects are usually responsible:

  1. Mediocrity: a culture of rewarding obvious ideas.

  2. Copying vs innovating: an attempt to copy your leading competitors. While you're copying them, they move three steps ahead.

  3. Political infighting: blinding politics that lead to irrational decisions.

  4. Resistance to change: your organization successfully defends the status quo.

  5. Stuck in mud: an organization that hasn't truly innovated since 1977.

  6. Neglect of need: customers don't have an urgent need for what's offered.

  7. Identity crisis: an organization that doesn't know what they represent or where they're going.

  8. Complexity: biting off more than is reasonable to chew (e.g. big bang).

  9. Design by committee: a compromise to make everyone in a room happy.

  10. Perfection: going too far to perfect an offering and missing the boat.


Next: How To Challenge Mediocrity »




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