A FASCINATING EXPERIMENT
The processionary caterpillar is a very unusual creature. When searching for food, a group of caterpillars forms a single line or procession, one caterpillar behind the other. Only the leader is tasked with actually looking for the next meal of pine needles; the others blindly follow the caterpillar in front.
The French naturalist Jean-Henri Fabre observed this behaviour and decided to conduct a fascinating experiment. He placed a procession of these caterpillars in a circle along the edge of a f lower pot so t hat ever y cater pi l l a r was following another one. There was no leader. He then placed some pine needles in the middle of the pot, and left them alone. Would any of the caterpillars break the circular procession and move towards the food in the middle of the pot? Or would they continue circling the f l owerpot, fol l owing t heir nat ura l instincts?
Amazingly, the caterpillars followed each other blindly for a full week, and eventually died of starvation. Sometimes, we’re like the processionary caterpillar in Fabre’s experiment. We’re so intently focused on our competitors directly in front of us that we completely miss the opportunities a little to the left.
We should rather ignore our competitors and break out of the competitive cycle. We should blaze our own trail, even if it’s risky and hasn’t been done before. As Henry Ford said: “The competitor to be feared is one who never bothers about you at all but goes on making his own business better all the time.”
Dr Gavin Symanowitz is an actuary and founder of BlockbusterInnovation.com, where he created the Ideas4Results Programme.