Force or Flex?

Few people act as we intend for them to act. As entrepreneurs, designers, communicators, or professionals that interact with other humans (most of us), we start out with a notion of the way that people are going to react. In fact, the more time we spend thinking and talking about how they are going to react, the more headstrong we are that we’ve nailed the approach. However, our self-selection bias gets in the way, and when others react differently we want to force our way.

An alternate approach is to ship. Use the best-known information, put it out in the world, observe, and adapt to the response.

The problem is that we don’t like to adapt. By adapting, we allow the details of our creation to be interpreted and altered. In other words, we are out of control when we adapt. It’s scary to say in a meeting, “I don’t know,” but sometimes that is the very best answer: “they know, I don’t.”

Men's Room Door

Here’s a great example. Look at this men’s room door. For whatever reason, the gentlemen that use this particular door, like to push it about a foot higher than the push plate. The plate’s only purpose is to prevent the defacing of the door, but these men didn’t want to push the door there.

We usually try to fix problems like this:

  1. Putting up signs telling people to do it the way we designed it.
  2. Fix the unintended consequence (by painting the door) but bitch about how stupid people are.
  3. Remove the plate altogether.

Or, we can simply adapt and move the plate to adapt to the behavior of its users. Flex. There are plenty of times to hold the uncompromising line, but when possible, flex. The audience knows, we guess.


Jeremy Floyd

Jeremy Floyd is the Chief Marketing Officer at Back Porch Vista. Formerly, he was the president of Bluegill Creative, a marketing and communications firm in Knoxville, Tennessee. In addition to managing the digital strategies, Floyd is an adjunct professor for the University of Tennessee Chattanooga MBA program teaching digital strategies and social media. Floyd blogs at jeremyfloyd.com and tweets under the name @jfloyd. Jeremy is licensed to practice law in the State of Tennessee and holds a law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from MTSU in English and Philosophy.

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