On Competitive Advantage – Part 3

Answer unanswered questions.

Imagine two skilled Minecraft pro’s. Let’s call them Alice and Bob. Suppose that Alice and Bob each decide to build a monster trap. Each trap will provide loot for them to sell.

Completing an efficient, low cost trap is a manageable task for these seasoned experts. However, it’s unclear which design is more efficient. Bob and Alice find themselves testing different ideas. They too are competing.

In round one their plans appear the same: find a dungeon, collect the magic monster maker, and dig a trap. So far? They’re tied.

That magic monster thing? Well, monsters only appear if someone is there. So, in round two Bob selects a high yield, manual design. On the other hand, Alice decides to automate for lower yield. She plans to focus on other manual tasks near by while the loot collects. For the moment it’s not clear who’s ahead.

Time passes. Alice and Bob have completed their traps. It’s round three now. Alice is sitting pretty, collecting loot while producing other goods. The automatic trap has worked. Each day she collects effort-free loot while producing additional value before going to the market.

So where’s Bob? Not in the market. Not at his trap either. Looks like Bob has moved on. Maybe he gave up? Just threw in the towel… but, that’s odd. Someone else is using Bob’s trap.

Turns out, Bob automated the trading. Other players take care of the monsters and may buy the loot at a considerable market discount.

So who wins this time? It doesn’t really matter. Here’s why:

If Alice wins, the best she can do like this is continue working at the trap before haggling in the market. She can stay ahead, but only while she’s trapped there with the monsters. What about Bob? Whether he wins or not, Bob can answer a new question while collecting on his wins. Bob’s not trapped.

To become wealthy in a free society and generate a competitive advantage I must do these things: identify the opportunitydo something different, and continue to answer unanswered questions.

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