Averages

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The Devil’s Advocate


In which the curmudgeonly old sod puts the world to rights.

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Rory Sutherland has an excellent snippet about the danger of managing toward averages. Among his reasons:

  • The average — the top of the bell curve— is where everyone will be targeting their product, so existing markets will be mature, barriers to entry high, and margins will be the slimmest. Go for the tails, find the influencers and meet them drive your product into the mainstream. Have the average follow you, not the other way around.
  • Convergence on the same place everyone is converging isn’t good business, but a recipe for bankruptcy. It is a race to the bottom. As with evolution, the secret is to realise the process is a continuous drift from the unsatisfactory status quo to something else that doesn’t have that drawback, as opposed to a process converging on a consensus. The ecosystem is not seeking an equilibrium. It is perpetually seeking to escape it.

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