True contrarians make a point of investing differently from everybody else. Rather than accept the consensus opinion, true contrarians ask questions and seek out factors others are ignoring …. Note that this is a different behavior than what is often the stereotype of contrarian investing …. Following a contrarian strategy requires asking both why an assumption should hold true as well as what other people are missing. The answers to such questions may show the consensus opinion being correct. They may also show the consensus opinion being wrong. … [P]rofessionals who practice this … take on “career risk.” Have no doubt, it can be a lonely world. It may cause others to ask “What are you doing?!” Editor’s Note, Charles Rotblut, AAII Journal, July 2015.
Going with the crowd is always easy and safe. It may not be the best way to proceed but if we do it wrong with the crowd then we have lots of company.
“Worldly wisdom teaches that it is better for reputation to fail conventionally than to succeed unconventionally.” — John Maynard Keynes in The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money
I doubt very much that those people most successful in life achieved it by following the crowd (e.g., Gates, Buffett, Walton, Jobs, Disney, Lady Gaga, etc.). Don’t get me wrong, many do and many succeed by just doing or looking a bit better than what the crowd is doing. This is in part because periodically someone still needs to be promoted — even in failing organizations.
For example, see Successful Managers Without Successful Projects
I always figured I’m doing something right when people start to push back and ask me “what are you doing?” Right, in the sense that I’m clearly not playing it too safe. If I’m not rocking a few boats then I’m probably not doing anything innovative. Of course, if everything is going well in the business or organization, why would I want to rock the boat? I can’t answer that because I’ve never been anywhere where things were going well enough that I didn’t see a real need to make some changes.
For more see Disrupt The Project To Make The Big Improvements
Are you playing it safe with your project or are you enough of a contrarian that you have your project following a path different from the crowd of projects that are routinely less than successful?