Thursday, November 12, 2009

How to make more pegs, more round, more often

Providing things that people need/want is at the core of any business. If there are round holes, you provide round pegs. That's the plan.

Trouble is, life is a little more complex.

The holes are rarely consistent in size or roundness. The pegs become best approximations.

So we take the hammer of advertising and marketing, mass media lowest common denominator comms of all forms, and bludgeon away. (image courtesy)

Sometimes some of the pegs even appear to fit. Hit enough, hard enough and long enough and - hey presto! Demand met.


Ok, more like supply supplied, then. All very wasteful. And noisy.

The fitness landscape of any complex adaptive system (from evolution to the economy) requires something, well, more adaptable.

It requires something more maleable - more open to change - to make a better fit.

If the pegs can be reshaped to fit the holes, they just drop in. No mass media hammering required. No energy wasted.

Businesses have always used the tools available to them to make the best approximation of those round pegs - market research, focus groups, the black-sweatered CEO's gut feel.
Those whose approximations are closest to round, find they need less hammering.

Now we have access to better tools - the social technologies that enable groups to form. That is, better access to people.

Now groups can form to wikifix a problem they share - such as your peg not fitting their hole.

Now you can let them, together, reshape your peg so it drops beautifully into place.

But it will only happen if you accept that the best people to shape a product or service to any fitness landscape you encounter are those who make up that landscape.

Advertising isn't (just) the tax you pay for being unremarkable (some products inspire such excited human interaction that the fitness landscape changes to accommodate them) it is also the tax you pay for trying to fit square pegs in round holes.

Hang up your hammers. Start opening your doors.

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The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?