The barbarians aren't just at the gate, they've kicked it in. In fact, they're running the castle."
Futurist Watts Wacker appreciates the barbarians, deviants, and other fringe elements of society. He thinks they can do wonders for your business. And in The Deviant's Advantage: How Fringe Ideas Create Mass Markets, published this month by Crown Business, Wacker and co-author Ryan Mathews, principals of the Westport, Connecticut-based consulting firm FirstMatter, share their tips for how to harness the power of deviancy.
Wacker is no fringe player arguing for the fringe. He's advised a slew of Fortune 1000 companies, including Nike, General Motors, Goodyear, DreamWorks SKG, Bank of America, and Mattel. The Deviant's Advantage argues that today's weird notion from the fringe of society can become tomorrow's lucrative business opportunity - if entrepreneurs and managers learn how to understand and how to nurture these ideas. American Way talked to Wacker about "managing the edge," deviant branding and marketing, and how to learn from the deviants in our midst.
American Way: What do you mean by deviance?
Watts Wacker: We use deviant and deviance in their pure forms, meaning someone operating away from the norm, which is how we get growth and innovation. There's positive and negative deviance. We're interested in the positive kind, the kind of transformational change that takes an idea from the fringe and morphs it into mass markets.
American Way: Can you describe how that transformation takes place?