Are you always going for the average?

Photo by billjacobus1

A statisticians Obituary:

“We regret to announce the death of Mr. William Smith, well known statistician, who was found drowned in a lake of an average depth of 7.4 metres”

Source – this site

The average is not only dangerous for statisticians. It is also dangerous for managers and decision makers. What is the problem with being average? After all, average is safe. It is easy to come by. The average is a compromise. It is the middle ground that everybody can agree about.  But if you think about it from a business perspective, what is more important – making everybody happy or succeeding with the business?

There are so many companies who settled on average products or services and disappeared, because being average is like a death sentence. We already know that there is no such thing as an average, one suits all, product.

In contrast to the pool, in real life, the average never stays average. The standards in everything (sports, academia, and business) are rising. What was considered great yesterday is now good, and what was once considered good, is now poor. So, if you start from being average, you don’t really have a chance. That is why people who are at the top don’t feel comfortable:

Why Are Tiger Woods, Oprah, and Bill Gates Uncomfortable?

They are uncomfortable because they are the best at what they do…and the best are never comfortable with where they are. Why? Because they have a burning desire to improve and grow and this naturally creates a healthy discomfort.

Most people think that the best live a life of blissful ease and bask in the glow of their success but that is not the case. Rather the best are always thinking of ways they can take their “game” to the next level and they’re always pushing themselves out of their comfort zone

Even though we all know, in some very deep way that this is true, we still go for the average. We still don’t choose between deeper and wider when faced with the buffet dilemma, we try a mix; a little bit of both.

I think this is the reason governments fail to create changes a lot of the time. Politics is about the average. It is about compromising. You can see a lot of legislation that was much needed in principal, but when it goes through the motions, it is changes due to the different agendas and what you get is an average that causes more damage than the original situation.

Sometimes, when I work in teams, I find myself in the opposing side. Somebody is making an offer I do not agree with. in these situations, if I do not succussed in convincing the other side that I am right, I always try to consider going with the other side’s approach instead of reaching some kind of average. We can both leave the argument happy and feel like we won something, but if the final result is mediocre, than it is not worth it. I rather take the risk of failing but have the chance of excellence, than going for the average. Because in the long term. The average kills you.

Or as Hugh MacLeod puts it:

Quality isn’t job one. Being totally fucking amazing is job one.

So, when is the last time you chose the extreme over the average?




7 Responses to “Are you always going for the average?”

  1. Did anybody notice? « The Comparative Advantage Says:

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