Beware the local maximum of creativity

Seth Godin makes an important observation:

“Organizations that do nothing but measure the numbers rarely create breakthroughs.”

I think he’s right. While it is critical to measure KPIs (key performance indicators) and that measurement is how you become successful, it’s not enough to keep you successful over the long term. If all you do is measure numbers, pretty soon you’ll watch the numbers start to fall because you’ve hit a local maximum.

What is a local maximum? It’s the highest point you can reach in your current model. Without drastically changing something about the model you’re using, you can only get so good…your improvements will get smaller and smaller until you’ve hit the ceiling. This is a limit to A/B testing and other optimizations…you can only optimize so much and reach diminishing returns rather quickly.

That’s why it’s so important to always be experimenting and researching creative alternatives to what you’re currently doing. Some people tend to do this out of habit…always playing with alternatives because they are never satisfied. Big companies have R&D departments to do this…Apple undoubtedly has research groups exploring future interactions constantly. The teams at Apple are probably years ahead of the market. By exploring possible routes forward you can gain a competitive advantage…by essentially creating the future before it exists yet in the marketplace.

Published: August 6th, 2013