Barbara and I got back into cross-country skiing this year. One day, as we were skiing along a groomed track in beautiful northern Michigan, I thought to myself, “It would be more fun to make my own track through the snow, but it would definitely be more difficult.” I think the same is true in business. Too often, I hear discussions where people are analyzing what their competitors are doing versus exploring what their customers and clients want. Is it easier to copy the competition rather than possibly reinventing your product to meet your customers’ needs? Of course it is! Just as in skiing, it is definitely simpler and less risky to follow the track that has already been laid out instead of breaking new ground and trying something different. A few years ago, I read a really thought-provoking book, Blue Ocean Strategy. The authors talked about how most of us operate in the “red” ocean, studying and emulating our competitors. They went on and gave great examples of companies that operate in the “blue” ocean, and have successfully created their own track. Is your team satisfied to glide along in the groomed track, or do you have a mechanism — or, better yet, culture — that encourages breaking out of the mold and trying new things?