Beyond Local Max

Seth Godin explains why we get stuck and what we can do about it.

Most people get stuck at the Local Max because changing strategy in any direction (this is really a 3D chart, but I’ve smushed it to make it easier) leads to poorer results.

You’ve got a very good job as an art director. To do better, you’d either have to move to another firm, move to another town, switch careers or go back to school. And all of them have costs and very uncertain returns, so you stay.

You have 100 competitors in an industry that is self-described as a commodity. You use the same tactics your competition does, because if you change your pricing or fundamentally alter your marketing outreach, you get punished in terms of sales or profits.

You’ve got summer camp with 80 kids in it. If you want to grow, you’ve learned the hard way that hiring one or two more senior staff people won’t work, because you can’t afford them. So you stick with what you’ve got.

Technology Revolution and its effect on Consumers

Scott Smyers writes:

Now, people give out their email address every bit as nonchalantly as earlier generations gave out their telephone number. Email, rather than being a burdensome means of conveying information to people you didn’t want to talk to, is now not only a transparent means of conveying information to people you don’t want to talk to, it is also a very viable and widely used means of communicating with everyone in your life. I know I am not alone in using email to communicate with my wife when I’m on a business trip. We can arrange whole weekends in the down-time between meetings and airplane meals, in my case, and between soccer and piano lessons, in the case of my wife. Transparency is not a word I use lightly. Transparency means that you don’t think about it, you just use it. Email is now a transparent means of communication for the mass market.

So, via a personal, mobile device called a “cell phone”, from anyone anywhere to anyone anywhere, we now have transparent voice communication and, slightly more recently, text communication. Not-so-transparently, we have the means to send pictures as a form of communication, also via cell phone. On the horizon we have video communication, from anyone, anywhere to anyone, anywhere. These latter things are only just becoming possible, but if we can use history as a guide, drawing from my brief histories above, one could expect that pictures and video, as a transparent form of communication, will be status quo within 15 to 20 years. The next step in this evolution, if I may be so bold as to make a forward-looking statement, is immersive content and communication.