My blog reading this morning has inspired a rant. Specifically the inspiration comes from a post by Corbett Barr of Think Traffic. The title of the post was Celebrate Small and in it Barr tells us of the pitfalls of the “size matters” trap. That error in thinking that smallness has to be resisted as if it were the enemy of progress. There is also an underlying message in his post…one that resonated with me on a deeper level.
It is revealed by this quote:
It’s hard to separate big from greed. A few people get rich when something goes public. Investors and founders get rich. Employees and users aren’t better off.
He’s right, it is hard, maybe impossible. But the prevailing mindset, nevertheless, is that bigger is better…be it bigger businesses, muscles, houses, banks and bank accounts, or, well, you know. I am here to join with Corbett and take issue with all that…well, that last one I won’t voice any opinion on.
Take the concept of the “big box” as an example. I moved to a little town in Costa Rica called Perez Zeledon about two years ago. I was living in San Jose…a very big city with a lot of big box stores…there you have your Walmarts, Office Depots, Price Smarts and so forth.
But here in Perez it is all mom and pop. I can remember back when small town U.S.A. used to be like that. But not any more, the big box concept destroyed it and turned small town U.S.A. into “ghost town” U.S.A.
And what happened to the “small farmer?” We actually still have those here in Costa Rica.
Now all that bigness might indeed be good for those investors and founders that Corbett mentions, but the rest of us…not so much, in my opinion.
Why is it that we suffer under this bigger is better illusion? Because along side of it there exists that related malady of mindset that more is never enough. What’s at the heart of it? In a word, greed.
In the movie The Social Network, when Sean Parker uttered that now famous line of “A million isn’t cool…You know what’s cool?…A billion,” I don’t think he had much more than “me, myself and I” in mind.
The bigger is better mindset is one that promotes scarcity and zero-sum.
Now, I’ll admit, as I type this and get ready to publish the finished product to Twitter and Facebook, that there is a tinge of hypocrisy in my hype. Twitter and Facebook are both big and getting bigger all the time. Big can be downright hard to avoid. It’s everywhere. It rules the world…to some extent.
But small is making a come back. And small is the way you and I can make an impact. As Corbett alluded to, small means a more intense level of connection. And our economy is becoming more and more driven by connection than by consolidation.
I believe people are becoming increasingly fed up with the commoditization of every facet of our lives. Because when that happens the quality of everything comes down, including that of life itself.
My message this morning is boycott big…not that we neglect the advantage of harnessing big for the advancement of the small…as many do with these gargantuan connection platforms…but we resist, even rebel against, the mindset that bigger is best…since it rarely ever is.
Let’s make impact the impetus…not shareholder return.