Our fascination with numbers and scale

If something is measurable, we tend to make it go either up or down. If it is a finite resource like time, money, and energy we would want to spend less of it while if it is website traffic, the number of likes on our social media page, and money, we would want more of it. Whatever the scenario is, if it is quantifiable it makes things easier. 
In this blog post, let us discuss scale – making the numbers go up. 

Nothing grows to infinity. Certainly no project or business or idea.

And saying, “as many as possible,” implies a series of trade-offs that you’re probably not actually interested in making.

One of the most important decisions we make is almost always made without thought, without discussion:

“How big do you want this to be?”

It’s a question that always gets in the way of,

“How good do you want this to be?”

There’s always a pressure to be scalable, to be efficient, and to create something that can be easily replicated. However, it comes with a price

To get bigger, the small business that’s based on the insight, energy and passion of a few people might have to dumb down. It has to standardize, itemize and rationalize, so that it can hire people who care a little less, know a little less and work a little less, because, after all, they just work here.

What if getting bigger isn’t the point? What if you merely got better?

Which means that in order to get bigger, the small businessperson sacrifices the very thing that brought in business in the first place.

Acknowledge your special sauce and hire people only when they help you do what you do best and uniquely. Don’t worry about replicating yourself, focus instead on leveraging yourself.

Scaling dehumanizes our efforts and ceases to make the difference that we seek to make in the world. Personalization makes things more human and helps form the trust. And, scaling is a hindrance to that.

“The biggest mistake most marketers make is “Not being human.” The problem is this: we’ve scaled the number of contacts, of patients, of Christmas card recipients, of Twitter followers, of email correspondents, of investors, of backers, of Kickstarter supporters, of readers, of correspondents, of co-workers, of… we’ve scaled it all. 

And the one thing we can’t do is scale our ability to take time.

Companies worth billions in transportation without owning a single vehicle, and hospitality juggernauts that own no real estate. These companies thrive because they streamline one-to-one connections between customer and supplier.

Treat different people differently. You decided to get bigger, but you won’t be able to treat everyone the way you used to. That was your decision, and it’s one of the costs of bigger.

Treating different people differently is the only way you’ve got to be able to take your time with the few, because, alas, you can no longer take your time with everyone. And if you can’t live with that, get smaller!”

In a world of zero marginal cost, being trusted is the single most urgent way to build a business. You don’t get trusted if you’re constantly measuring and tweaking and manipulating so that someone will buy from you. most of the time when organizations start to measure stuff, they then seek to industrialize it, to poke it into a piece of software, to hire ever cheaper people to do it.

“I want Barnes and Noble to reorganize the store based on my needs for my visit – that’s what Amazon does.”– Seth Godin

The question we must ask is “If the number is hidden from the universe, would we still want to make it go up?”

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