Hey Rainmaker, I wonder if you’ve ever had this experience…
I started working with a client on a project a bit back. The team for this particular project was pretty big. Big enough, in fact, that they had a project manager meant to coordinate the diverse efforts of the diverse team.
And, with the project manager came… Project management tools.
It started off fine.
There was a project management online platform, like Basecamp, but not Basecamp.
And then there was an online meeting platform.
For most teams, that works pretty well.
Apparently for this team, it wasn’t enough!
Now, I was brought in on this particular project just to help on a little side aspect of the project. I’m NOT one of the “in the trenches” core team members. So I didn’t worry too much about how the whole thing was conducted. I was content to play my part, and stay out of the way for the rest.
But I couldn’t help but cringe when not one, but TWO other tools were brought into the equation.
An online mind-mapping tool, which apparently was supposed to replace the project management software…
And a “live chat” platform that was meant to be a way for the team to be able to communicate and collaborate on the fly.
Suddenly there were three separate platforms on which planning and project management were supposed to be taking place simultaneously, plus the meeting platform which would also occasionally host live planning and project management platforms.
To make matters worse, we had a planning meeting. What happened during the planning meeting? Well, in short, they spent the whole meeting debating the tools and the process of planning… And never got to any actual planning!
Admittedly, this was quite overwhelming, so I tuned out.
I focused on getting my part done, and now I’ve stepped back into a role where I’m happy to provide thoughts as needed, but I’m no longer very active in this project.
And, I hesitate to offer any further contribution, because I’m afraid of getting all caught up in the noise.
Here’s the sorry truth about our world today: we’re all subject to way too much pressure and noise!
We’ve been given almost unlimited instant access to information. We’ve been given almost unlimited instant access to tools that are supposed to help us along the way.
And with this unlimited access has come the assumption that more is better.
This happens in every major shift-change in technology, society, and culture.
I wrote what I think is a really important article back in April, on what I dubbed the upcoming Intelligence Revolution.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, we had the Industrial Revolution. This was sparked by engines and motors, automation and energy.
And for a long time, we thought more was better.
But what happened? Well, with enough of all that industrial technology, we discovered we were eviscerating our planet, and while we were improving our quality of life in many ways, we were also hurting ourselves.
So we set about to fix it, and at about the same time, technology really advanced with the creation of the microchip.
Suddenly we had data and processing power. And information storage and retrieval of a type that could have only been dreamed of in the ages of stone tablets, parchment, and paper.
Add to that the global, instant interconnectivity of the internet, and we moved out of the industrial age into the full-fledged information age.
We used to have to go to the encyclopedia, the library, the bookstore, or — gasp — the source to find information.
Now, we have Google and Wikipedia.
All the world’s information, at our fingertips. Any question we have can be answered, and it is good.
For example, when my daughter got sick, we wanted to know how contagious croup was, how to treat it, and anything else we should know. So we reach into our pockets, grab our smart phones, and have authoritative advice from 10 of the world’s top medical institutions just a finger tap away.
It’s hard to argue that having access to the information is a bad thing. Just like it’s hard to argue that having access to cars and boats and production lines and internal combustion engines and interior plumbing and center-pivot irrigation — all breakthroughs of the Industrial Revolution — is a bad thing.
There are bad sides to these good things.
The bad side to the Information Revolution is NOISE.
TMI — too much information. It’s no longer just used to tell you to stop describing your sex life when you shouldn’t be.
It’s a sickness of our modern society.
That smart phone in your pocket that can bring you a treatment for your daughter’s croup in under 60 seconds also won’t stop giving you notifications of news events, Facebook updates, emails that don’t matter, and anything and everything else.
Our inboxes, once relatively sacred spaces for personal communication, have become walls of noise. And I’m not just talking about commercial email. In fact, some commercial email is signal (the opposite of noise). And some personal email is noise.
Because someone has your email, they think they can and should use it. So they email you anything and everything.
Add to that all the work tools that automatically email you updates.
For example, that project above.
As part of it, I got added to email updates through the project management software. Which is good, because there are things I need to know about there. Only there’s a little problem. Somewhere in the fray, a bunch of tasks got created that are linked to me, that are done, but not “done.” And so now I get daily emails about things I don’t need to pay attention to.
Which, as a survival mechanism, I’ve started to tune out. So when something comes through that I do need to pay attention to, it’s more likely to fly under my radar and get ignored.
The solution to noise and information overload is filtering…. It’s intelligence.
In my April article, I wrote about the coming Intelligence Revolution. It’s what comes next, that will solve the biggest problems of the current Information Revolution.
If Google won the Information Revolution by categorizing the world’s information, the winner of the Intelligence Revolution will be the company that figures out how to get you exactly the information you need, as you need it.
Did you see Big Hero 6? It was about a medical robot that was able to figure out what was wrong with you and treat you on the spot, intelligently. It could even scan you and figure out if you were allergic to a specific medicine. The robot was activated when you said, “Ouch.” There was a lot of humor in the fact that it was a prototype, a not-yet-perfected version of this intelligence miracle. But it’s a great example.
This is the direction the world is going. This is what the first few generations of real artificial intelligence will create breakthroughs in. This is a world we’ll see in full force within a couple decades, that will become more and more real every month and year.
For example, Google just built and launched a tool that will tell you if a rooftop solar installation makes economic sense for YOUR HOUSE. It only works in a few areas right now, but that’s really, really smart. It even seems to — from what I can tell — recognize that shadows from surrounding buildings can make an impact on how viable of an option rooftop solar is. (Unfortunately, Lincoln, NE wasn’t one of their initial markets for roll-out, so I’ll have to wait to know what Google’s intelligent algorithms have to say about rooftop solar for me.)
Here’s why I’m writing about all this in a marketing and business letter…
In case you’re waiting for the point and punchline, here it is.
The faster you can find a way to get smart about filtering signal versus noise, the better.
First off, if you’re able to filter as much noise from your life as possible, and focus on the signal that is your highest and best skills and purpose and mission and impact, you’ll achieve much greater things in the world. Plus, you’ll achieve far more happiness.
Example: the noise in the world is that I should work 24/7 to grow my business. The signal is that I have young kids at home that will only be young once, and I can always focus on growing a huge business later. Thankfully, I figured that out years ago and have found a way to strike the balance that makes me happy.
Or, in the case of the project management example above, they could benefit from trying to minimize communication, not maximize it. Focus on, “Is this REALLY important for everyone getting it, do they NEED to see it?” The communication would decrease drastically, the value would multiply.
The book Essentialism is required reading.
Next, you will benefit from being the intelligence and the filter for your clients and customers. Even when they don’t recognize it consciously, the modern world is starting to recognize that we’ve been bombarded by too much. Too much untargeted advertising. Too much content that’s only marginally relevant to our lives. Too much of other people’s opinions about how we should live our lives. Too much, too much, too much.
To be successful going forward, it’s likely you’ll need to focus on less, not more.
For example, the funnel I talked about in yesterday’s issue goes deep in ONE really important topic. It’s not an overview of the million-and-one ways to be successful. It’s the one thing that’s most important to your success.
The people who embrace this — getting really good at less — are going to be the folks who enjoy the most success and happiness going forward.
And this will apply to almost every area of your life.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
Editor, Breakthrough Marketing Secrets