“What’s your elevator pitch?”
“Tell me in 10 seconds what you do?”
“You have 2mins to pitch us on our ‘shark tank style’ pitch event”
“You need a quick pitch that everyone can understand right away”
“It’s the Uber of….”
“It’s an app for…”
I am hearing these all the time in conversations about ‘entrepreneurship’, ‘start-up’ or ‘innovation’, and it is harming progress.
The main reason that it harms progress is that it makes complexity seem like a burden. That having a multi-levelled, detailed product seems unnecessary, unwieldy and inconvenient in an age where people are prepared to give you “10 seconds for a pitch”.
If you are really, truly on the cutting edge, you will be doing work no-one else is doing, playing with concepts, processes and outcomes that no-body necessarily thought possible or probable, perhaps solving problems that people who aren’t at the cutting edge didn’t realise were problems in the first place.
If you are comparing your work to something that exists, the uber-of or and app-that, then you are mostly repurposing an existing platform, perhaps making something more convenient, but not necessarily creating an innovation.
Simplicity of concept does not mean a better concept. Simplicity of participation is key.
Imagine trying to explain one of the simplest, most ubiquitous interfaces of our age, before it was well known. Google.
Q: “What do you do?”
A: “You type in what you are looking for on the internet, then we find if for you.”
Q: Oh? Like Yahoo?
A: No, not like Yahoo, we use different algorithms to determine the most relevant content for the search you have entered.
Q: But what is your mission?
A: “organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
Q: Oh, like a library, or a school, or a university? We already have those.
Looking for a pithy “pitch” type explanation either leads to a conversation about the amazingly interesting complexity behind what it takes to organise the internet, or something that sounds vague enough that could apply to Yahoo, AOL, libraries or schools.
Google has a simple interface.
iPhones have a simple interface.
They are not simple. They are complicated, with features and technology built into them that would take weeks and months to work through. Simple interfaces do not mean simple concepts. You should not have to have a ‘pitch’ that covers all of the working parts of your organisation in ten seconds.
Rather than being intimidated by complexity, nuance and cutting edge expertise, we should ask people to teach us about their ideas, concepts, businesses and solutions. Teach us about why it might be necessary, Teach us about what is different and better about what your do, Teach us about how you have cultivated your expertise and understanding at the cutting edge.
Two minutes does not allow any real form of thoroughness to be put to ideas, so now there is a proliferation of ideas, pitches and people who have not been put through significant intellectual rigour, believing that a simple, ten second interaction is more important that an in depth, well considered solution or innovation.
It’s true, some people are not going to get your idea, that is always the case regardless of what your idea is. Usually that simply means that the idea is not for them. There is almost nothing that is a universally understood or accepted idea.
I have concerns that we are encouraging people to iterate at the expense of investigate, to pitch instead of teach and to look for quick, simple solutions, instead of simple ways to engage people in complete, comprehensive, well thought out and logically consistent solutions.
How about instead of seeing how quickly someone can get a pitch out, we see how deeply they’ve considered the problems they’re trying to solve. Instead of wanting a slogan, probing for intellectual rigour in the foundation of what they are doing? Instead of relying on emotion, we dig deeper into the durability of their methods?
We would love to see ‘teach’ culture become more prominent than ‘pitch’ culture. We would love to see rewards for those bringing depth over hype, and real cutting edge innovation over re-packaged existing solutions.
Don’t be wary of intricate solutions, be wary of inadequate ones.
Keep learning, keep working at the cutting edge and as always, Just Be Nice.
Just Be Nice
A collection of articles relevant to pursuing the effective execution of altruism in the search for equality of opportunity.