Saturday, March 24, 2012

Information duncity

Did you ever notice how some memes seemingly appear out of nowhere, then are suddenly ubiquitous -- like the car you never noticed until you bought one and now it seems everyone owns one?

I recently wrote about how failure can actually lead to success, and how "one's errors are a portals of discovery."  Turns out lots of people are talking and writing about mistakes lately.

One of the best pieces I've seen is one from TAB colleague John Dini, who recently wrote on the value of mistakes in business. His advice to start a "mistake budget" is one that I will steal gratefully, with generous attribution.

However, mistakes aren't always all they are cracked up to be.  In this unforgiving economy, we need to maximize "good" mistakes and minimize the "bad" ones.  We need to make better decisions.

And there's the rub.

In my search for failure, I came across a number of articles, papers and studies on leadership and decision-making.  There was this New York Times magazine story on "decision fatigue." 
"No matter how rational and high-minded you try to be, you can’t make decision after decision without paying a biological price. It’s different from ordinary physical fatigue — you’re not consciously aware of being tired — but you’re low on mental energy. The more choices you make throughout the day, the harder each one becomes for your brain, and eventually it looks for shortcuts...
"This sort of decision fatigue can make quarterbacks prone to dubious choices late in the game and C.F.O.’s prone to disastrous dalliances late in the evening. It routinely warps the judgment of everyone, executive and nonexecutive, rich and poor..."
So, too much information can be a bad thing.  Information overload triggers a biological response:  we shut down, mentally.  You can picture it can't you, the prospect's eyes that glaze over as you recite your features and benefits; the employee who stares into space as you recite the company policy regarding piercing?

Marketing guru Seth Godin calls it Information Density.  The outcome is what I call it Information Duncity:  overwhelming our audience and ourselves with messages, information and channels believing that more choices are better, when the opposite is actually true.

In The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz explained how our expanding array of choices is making consumers (and others) more anxious and unhappy.

Keeping it simple is the best path for any business (see: Apple.)  K.I.S.S. has never been more important in gaining traction for your objective, whether it's increasing sales or getting Jake to remove his nose ring.

Some simple tips:
  • Be clear about what outcome you want.
  • Be declarative, not wishy-washy.
  • Be genuine: manipulation is passe.
  • Speak human, not jargon.
  • Clear the path: eliminate excess information and choice.
In today's commercial marketplace, less is more.  Simplicity can be your competitive advantage.

1 comment:

Jordan said...

As well as creating very simple and beautiful products, I've heard some people say that what Apple did was decide for the consumer what they wanted and needed. With all the different advertisements and messages put in front of people today, doing that is a very interesting tactic.