Interesting post recently by Jason Fried, the founder of Basecamp and 37 Signals, over on Medium. Here it is. He talks about the value of ignorance in business — I considered doing a headline like “ignorance is bliss,” i.e. playing off my last name, but decided against it — and says this:
I think a lot of folks are spending way too much energy trying to know it all. They’re trying to be over-informed. Soaking up every piece of advice. Following every story, watching every video. Trying to understand too many things about how things currently work. Who’s doing what, what the latest techniques are, which list of steps to follow, etc.
You’ll make something new when you’re new. You’ll make something also when your mind is filled with other people’s ideas.
This approach might have some validity.
I’m not arguing for CCOs to be ignorant, no
Here’s what I am saying:
- Business models are often unique to some degree
- The composition of internal stakeholders (employees, executives) is always unique
- Priority is often shifting or, at worst, ill-defined within companies
At this intersection point, it’s impossible to know everything. Customer experience is such a rapidly-evolving field, and one that people are discussing every day out in the marketplace and thought leader communities. You could never pick up every nugget of information. But honestly, you shouldn’t. What you need to do is focus on your stakeholders and your priorities and earning the right to do the work.
We’re up to Episode 59 of my customer experience podcast. One thing I’ve noticed more and more, especially in the last 20 or so episodes, is that the CCO guests often talk about how important the first 90 days was in terms of learning that organization (where they work) and getting to know those people. This is when they define priorities and move forward.
They almost have to have blinders on about all the advice and thought leadership out there on LinkedIn and in professional forums. It’s a form of ignorance. It’s not total head-in-sand ignorance, no. But you need to focus on your priorities.
Ignorance and simplicity
You could argue that “ignorance” and “simplicity” are cousins in terms of word choice. Well, because we live in such a go-go-go business climate now and everyone seems to be reporting increased stress and emotional burnout from work, some have argued the next big strategy should be simplicity. Focus on the core areas, define the priorities, and execute well. That’s going to get you far.
My main point here is: don’t take on every project under the sun. Don’t read every strategy and book and try to enact them all at once. Have a degree of ignorance about the marketplace as you establish your internal goals and processes. As those get humming, then you can start thinking about the broader external pieces that might fit.