April 11, 2010

The average is irrelevant.

More brilliant and practical advice from Seth Godin:

When in doubt, disaggregate

The typical American buys precisely one book a year.


Of course, this isn't true, because when it comes to books, there is no typical American. There are a lot of Americans who buy zero books for pleasure each year. And then there are people like me who buy 400. The average is irrelevant.

When you can't figure out the best way to treat all your customers, the best way to price things, the best thing to offer, realize that the problem is almost always this: you're trying to treat everyone the same. Don't. Break them into groups with similar attributes, and suddenly the path becomes a lot more clear.

This applies to communication as well. Leaders often think it is best to address the most people at one time. This leads to large assemblies; long, legally-vetted press releases and speeches; and disturbingly flat videos. They think this results in true transparency: "Hey, I told everyone the same thing. It's their fault if they don't get it."

The thing is, people hear information filtered through their own experiences. There are as many ways to hear and make meaning of information as there are people in the room.

It's advantageous to speak with people in "small groups with similar attributes". There are many ways to say the same thing; smart leaders deliver the same message while at the same time engaging in two-way, customized communication. This kind of sincere, empathetic communication compliments and engages your listeners, and is more likely to deliver on your communication goals.

1 comment:

  1. So, two guys are sitting at a bar, when Bill Gates walks in. "Congratulations," says the one guy to the other, "the average net worth of everyone in this bar just went up by a billion dollars."



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