The concepts of scarcity and abundance touch all aspects of our lives. The more scarce something is, the more we tend to value and want it. The more abundant something is, the more we take it for granted of fail to pay attention to it.
We see it in virtually every aspect of our lives. A common example in these discussions is food. When food is scarce, we tend to be very careful with what food we acquire and consume. When food is plentiful, we are prone to huge waste and bad diets.
As we look at scarcity and abundance in business, we can see similar effects of scarcity and abundance.
Over decades, in buying and selling information and access to information by which we make decisions, create new things, build new businesses, solve problems, buy and sell is important to everyone (though we each use information differently). With the advent of technologies, the web, search, AI, we have moved from information scarcity to information abundance.
When information was scarce, the value of that information and the value of getting access to that information was high. For buyers in a world of information scarcity, the ability to find information relevant to their challenges was very important. They craved access to that information. And it was sellers that had that information.
As a result, sellers became important to customers seeking information to solve problems and move forward. Buyers craving information valued those sellers that provided them meaningful data and information.
Likewise, as we looked for the information and data we need to manage the performance of our organizations, it was scarce. We craved whatever information we could get to help us better understand performance and improve it.
Those with more information in an information scarce world were advantaged, compared to those not having access to that information.
Today, thanks to technology, we live in a data/information abundant world. And because it is so abundant, we tend to take it for granted, possibly even ignoring it. Those offering us more information tend to be ignored or shut out. They are perceived, perhaps mistakenly as unnecessary. Providing more information exacerbates the situation, to the point of overwhelming us. Perhaps, as coping mechanism, we stop paying attention. Perhaps because of the overabundance we have a false sense of confidence that should we need information, it’s very easy to get this.
The abundance of information creates a perception that it is less valuable. Information becomes commoditized.
In a world where we can no longer capture attention through providing information, what do we do?
The solution is to begin to look at what’s scarce. We know that what is scarce is valued.
As we look at buyers, what is scarce? What can we identify that is valuable now? As we look within our own organizations, what is scarce that our people value?
I don’t know that I have the answers to this, but perhaps some ideas.
For some years, we’ve been playing with the idea of sense making, helping customers deal with the information overwhelm. I think there is still some great potential with that because it’s less about the information and more about underlying issues–perhaps time,confidence.
This may give us clues, but here are some thoughts on what is scarce for our customers, prospects, and our people.
A few things come to mind:
Time–we will never have an abundance of time since it is fixed. I think the issue with time is the scarcity of time available to what is most important to each of us.
Caring–we see so much data on engagement, employee satisfaction, attrition, lack of trust. It impacts our customers and our own organizations. It seems caring is scarce, perhaps if we focus on this in each of our interactions, we and those we work with we will get more attention, making more progress.
Caring is an interesting area, because each of us, also, crave this. So by demonstrating more caring with others, it tends to be reciprocated.
Meaning–Meaning has a number of aspects. Organizationally and individually, we search for meaning. I suspect meaning is related to purpose and values. Both understanding meaning and helping create meaning, creates value for those we engage.
Clarity–this may be tied to sensemaking, but as we look at the rate of change, disruption, information overwhelm, and so forth, everyone struggles for clarity.
I’ll stop here, clearly, I am thinking out loud, but here’s the opportunity. What have I missed?
Information is no longer scarce. We find it ever so much more difficult to engage customers with information because of it’s abundance. They shut down, they don’t care, they are overwhelmed. Likewise, we have more data and information within our own organizations yet we fail to leverage it.
So while it is important, capturing attention, creating value solely on the basis of information is probably a losing strategy.
Focusing on those things that are scarce, those things people value, captures their attention. What if we started shifting our strategies to those things and demonstrating them in our customer outreach and within our own organizations.