A Guide to Dysfunctional Management and the Evil Workplace
August 24th, 2012 by William

The False Choice of Mediocrity

In my book Puttin’ Cologne on the Rickshaw, I quote Seth Godin, entrepreneur, author and public speaker, when he pointed out that instead of following the herd mentality, always doing whatever everybody else is doing, organizations (companies) should set out to do something “remarkable;” something no one else has done before. That’s how they can set themselves apart from the herd. In the vernacular of the latest business buzzwords, this need to follow of the herd is called “benchmarking.”

In his book Small Is the New Big: And 183 Other Riffs, Rants, and Remarkable Business Ideas Seth Godin takes on the trap of benchmarking. The example he uses to drive his point home is the automakers. Most cars all look alike to some degree. Some stand out as different from the pack. As he explains, “…benchmarking against the universe actually encourages us to be mediocre, to be average; to just do what everyone else is doing. The folks who invented the Mini (or the Hummer for that matter) didn’t benchmark their way to the cutting edge. Comparison to other cars would never have brought about these fashionable exceptions.”

In his July 9, 2012 blog post titled, “The False Choice of Mediocrity,” Seth Godin drives this point home from yet another angle. He tells us; “Too often, we’re presented with choices that don’t please us. We can pick one lousy alternative or the other. And too often, we pick one.”

He tells us, “I was struck by Apple’s choice to put a glass screen on the original iPhone. Just six weeks before it was announced, Steve Jobs decided he wanted a scratchproof glass screen. The thing is this wasn’t an option. It wasn’t possible, reliable, feasible or appropriately priced. It couldn’t be done with certainty, and almost any other organization would have taken it off the list of appropriate choices.

“It was unreasonable.

“And that’s the key. Remarkable work is always not on the list, because if it was, it would be commonplace, not remarkable.”

Too often businesses get trapped in “The False Choice of Mediocrity,” and most, without a doubt, will choose the lesser of two evils. I agree with Seth, companies must break that habit and search for that one thing that will make their company, or product, “remarkable” and that starts with the everyday decisions that are faced. Instead of just picking from the alternatives, find a new path.

Seth Godin’s book, Small Is the New Big: And 183 Other Riffs, Rants, and Remarkable Business Ideas, served as an inspiration to me when I was writing my book Puttin’ Cologne on the Rickshaw.  I recommend those like-minded readers of my blog to check out Small is the New Big, and other Seth Godin books. Also I highly recommend you subscribe to his daily blog posts at: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths blog/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Reload Image