Archives for March 2013

Most People, most of the time (the perfect crowd fallacy)… (Seth Godin)

March 26, 2013 Leave a Comment

Most people, most of the time, aren’t creative, generous or willing to stand up and contribute worthwhile work to the community. At least not the contributions you’re hoping for.

The myth of wikipedia is that, when given the chance, hordes of people stepped up and built it. In fact, 5,000 people contribute most of the value on the site.

The myth of ebooks is that now that anyone can publish, enormous numbers of people will use this new platform to create countless numbers of new classics. In fact, most self-published ebooks just aren’t very good.

And the same is true for just about everything that’s open. A few people do an enormous amount (non-profit volunteers, community organizations, online sites), a few people are vandals or merely taking what they can take, and the masses participate, but aren’t at the heart of the project.

To dismiss the crowd is a huge mistake, though.

Here’s the fascinating part, call it the golden shoulder: We have no idea in advance who the great contributors are going to be. We know that there’s a huge cohort of people struggling outside the boundaries of the curated, selected few, but we don’t know who they are.

That means that the old systems, the ones where just a few people were anointed to be the chosen authors, chosen contributors, chosen musicians–that system left a lot of people out in the cold. The new open systems embrace waste. They understand that most people won’t contribute and most contributions won’t be any good. But that’s fine, because this openness means that the previously unfound star now gets found.

The curated business, then, will ultimately fail because it keeps missing this shoulder, this untapped group of talented, eager, hard-working people shut out by their deliberately closed ecosystem. Over time, the open systems use their embrace of waste to winnow out the masses and end up with a new elite, a self-selected group who demonstrate their talent and hard work and genius over time, not in an audition.

Go ahead and minimize these open systems at your own peril. Point to their negative outliers, inconsistency and errors, sure, but you can only do that if you willfully ignore the real power: some people, some of the time, are going to do amazing and generous work… If we’ll just give them access to tools and get out of their way.

(The curated block isn’t reality, it’s merely what the curator claims–that his magical powers will find all of the great talent, without error or waste. Of course, a quick look at Hollywood or even an expensive mutual fund shows that this is a fable. The ‘open’ block includes the low-quality stuff as well, but since that work is created without a lot of expense, pruning it is no tragedy. The secret is embracing the talented and dedicated people who choose themselves.)

De-escalation

March 7, 2013 Leave a Comment

De-escalation¬†(By:¬†Seth Godin’s Blog)

Marketers want commitment. They want the big finish, the closed sale, the new customer. Buy Now!

The goal then is to create tension, to escalate need, to amplify conflict until action is taken. Escalation causes us to commit to our original need, by reinforcing it.

It goes beyond the retail store, of course… it’s deep within our culture. Noir novels show the hero goading the guy in the bar until a small dispute escalates into a beat down. Movies create drama (and entertainment) by escalating the small-time heist into the next world war. And commercials, retailers and demagogues take every opportunity to find the smallest thread of disclocation and amplify it into real commitment to action.

But what happens when we do the opposite? If we think about connection instead of power, if we think about abundance instead of scarcity, we can turn this on its head.

What if we de-escalate conflict?

What if we don’t try to turn shopping desire into a fever pitch? What if later is just as good, or better, than now?

What if we back off occasionally instead of pressing forward?

What if playing the game starts to become at least as important as winning it?

De-escalation creates connection, not commitment to previously made choices. It trades the short-term battle for the long-term relationship.

Taking our time and letting air in (and heat to escape) might be precisely the best way to build the relationships we need for the long run. It leads to better decisions, less shrapnel and work that truly matters, without regret.