The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

From should to could

In an entertaining conversation with Allegra Stein, I had the opportunity to learn quite a bit from her. We had connected to talk about her work since attending The Marketing Seminar a while ago, and how this year had been a powerful year for her.

The learning that resonated most was her shift from assuming how things should be done to deciding how things could be done. As the world becomes more global and connected, we’ll hear quite loud voices telling us how are things are being done. That is how, according to these experts, things should be done. With such loud voices, it becomes difficult for someone who steps into a new profession to do so without hearing how others succeeded. Or let’s say more precisely, what others do. Or even more precisely, how they’ve heard how others do it and are trying to do it themselves.

Once the “should” established itself, it becomes what people look out for.

What they don’t see then, is that there is even more worth in starting to do the work and figuring out by themselves how that work they do serves their customers and how they come to a result they have been trying to achieve.

That’s because the “should” describes how an established organization might be organized. It doesn’t talk about how starting in the garage looks like. The “should” also talks about the many customers that will be gained when success sets in. It doesn’t say how the first few customers become the best teachers of how to do the work.

The problem with the “should” is that it is there to reassure. It becomes the comfort zone of “it worked for others”.

What the “could” is there for, is to lean into the work. It is becoming acquainted with it and figuring out what a satisfied customer looks like. That when Allegra also shared how in getting started, her work had been to focus on her minimum viable audience.

For most of us starting to reach out to prospects isn’t comfortable. That’s where the minimum viable audience can come in as a comfort zone. It consists of as specific a group as possible, one that can be related to. It is the smallness of the group that reduces complexity in such a way that the work one starts with feels manageable.


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