Friday, February 12, 2010

Finding Needles in Haystacks

To get hired, chosen or "picked," we first must be noticed.
In order to get noticed, Seth Godin explains that we need to flaunt a distinguishing trait--that's why one one of his books is titled Purple Cow. Once noticed, the virtues of our differences are evaluated;both in relation to our peers, those that occupy our niche, and then turning on how well we are perceived to meet the needs of the evaluator.

Sometimes, the ordinary becomes important because just at the moment of need, inherent individual traits fit the bill. It is precisely why a pencil may end up as a support stick, or a piece of newsprint becomes the perfect window cleaner. In that vein, the report that enumerates the quantity of work being done readily fits our need to communicate productivity. In all cases, the availability is what made the item work, there was noting particular or special about it.

Satisfaction for our efforts is a difficult sentiment to predictably measure as well as achieve. Our satisfaction in one moment and one set of conditions does not guarantee repeat performance levels, even when circumstances are precisely replicated. Once we adjust, and we do quickly adjust to small changes, our standards also adjust and generally they adjust to a higher level.

Human nature compels us to always want more, and so our level of satisfaction with a particular heightened experience tends to wane over time. If this quarter is profitable, next quarter we promise to be even better, and so do our competitors. As fast as the purple cow appears, numerous impostors arise slowly and then surely erode the distinct advantage once enjoyed by the purple cow.

We may deploy technology to further differentiate, and maybe accelerate, our ability to generate purple cows. Caught up in the frenzy for differentiation or desire to be noticed, we fail to ask what we need. Why we set out to find those needles in the haystack and whether it is the needle or the hay that is most valued?

Ask yourself what your business really needs, Don't merely laud yourself when the numbers are all up, look a little deeper and specifically whether the measures you use are delivering absolute, not merely relative value

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