Humans Don’t Scale

One of the important points I often make about social media, engagement, customer experience, and anything related to human connection is that we, as individuals, don’t scale. Singular human touchpoints and interactions have limits. Period. It’s a reality of physics and the space time continuum (or something).

You cannot and should not be everywhere nor available to everyone. Diluting yourself across the breadth of everything means that you will ever merely touch an experience or a person, and you’ll never absorb anything in depth. When it comes to this, personal accountability is important. You have to employ filters and do the work to determine what’s working and what isn’t. Ditch the stuff that isn’t. Do more of what works. And when it comes to business, sometimes the only answer to creating more connections is to have more people to do the connecting.

If you’re sucked into the habit of chasing every opportunity for fear of missing one, you’ll surely lose the bandwidth to actually act on the ones that are alive in front of you.

And if you’re dissipating your energy in micropieces so that you can give everything a moment, you will shortchange the established relationships you have invested in, the rich opportunities on the table in front of you, the work that’s paying your bills right now, and the important moments of freedom that you must reserve in order to evaluate, plan, and move on what’s next.

Where this gets messy is in dealing with the people – the human beings themselves – on the other end of all of these things.

The very nature of today’s open, velocity-rich and utterly accessible communication means that we – all of us – are increasing our expectations for access, responsiveness, and attention accordingly. We are demanding that people mirror the technologies through which we connect with them, asking them to be continuously available, democratically responsive, and utterly open-source with regard to their knowledge, expertise, and time.

But it doesn’t work that way.

We are not machines. We have networked and mechanized the nerve centers of our worlds, but we are not automatons. We have got to stop expecting that of ourselves, and most importantly, we have to stop expecting it of others around us simply because the tools have made connection possible.

Community, access, and sharing are beautiful things, but they are not implicit. They are earned. They are reciprocal. And while we ask others to understand and sympathize with our own human-based limitations, we often do a crappy job of respecting the limitations and humanity of others, even in a business sense.

So I’m putting this to you as I think about it myself. It applies to our personal interactions, and to the humanization of business as we’re trying to build it.

While we have so readily embraced the potential of limitless surface connections, let us remember that the nodes on these massive, interwoven networks are the very humans we want to find. Allow yourself filters, priorities, and limits. Respect that others have filters, priorities, and limits of their own, and that you may not see or be privy to them all.

And understand that if we are truly seeking connectivity between people and not machines, we must employ some tolerance and acceptance for the imperfections of humanity that come alongside.

photo by adactio

Humans Don’t Scale

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