Acting crazy: Your best competitive strategy yet?
“Feign madness but keep your balance: Hide behind the mask of a fool, a drunk, or a madman to create confusion about your intentions and motivations. Lure your opponent into underestimating your ability until, overconfident, he drops his guard. Then you may attack.” In laymen’s terms, if your adversary thinks you are crazy, he won’t feel threatened by you and so will not take you seriously or put up a fight against you.
History is full of examples of this potent tactic being used to good effect. The Trojan horse is a well-known war story about the deception that the Greeks used to gain access to the city of Troy. Following a futile 10-year siege, the Greeks built a gigantic wooden horse and hid Greek soldiers inside. After the Greeks pretended to sail away, the Trojans brought the horse into Troy as a victory trophy. That same night the Greek soldiers secretly crept out of the horse and opened Troy’s gates for the rest of the Greek army, which had sailed back during the night. The Greek army then destroyed the city of Troy, decisively ending the Trojan war.
Another great example comes from Roman history. Before the Roman Republic was founded, kings ruled Rome. For many years Lucius Junius Brutus, the creator of the Roman Republic, pretended to be stupid. This way he was able to fool the family of King Lucius Tarquinius Superbus into trusting him while he covertly planned to overthrow them. Using this element of surprise, Brutus toppled Tarquinius Superbus while his guard was down, forcing him into exile and ending the reign of kings over Rome.
So the obvious question is: How is this relevant to the world of business? This same strategy can be a very powerful weapon in your arsenal against competitors.
To take on Niké, Skechers created a product so questionable in its effectiveness claims – toning shoes – that rivals did not take the brand
seriously... until it was too late