Dark matters and tribal matters: Grams v Godin

Yesterday on his Dark Matter Matters blog, my friend Chris Grams respectfully challenged author Seth Godin by asserting that his latest book “Tribes” limited his audience by preaching to the choir.

Grams describes two separate and distinct audiences that could benefit from Godin’s work. Following Roger Martin‘s model, one is the ‘validity-minded’ designer audience (his already loyal following, the “choir” if you will).

The other audience, the one who widely panned Godin’s book, is the ‘reliability-minded’ business community that needs concrete examples and reliable outcomes. More data. More case studies. More proof.

Grams suggests that Godin could do more to reach out to this group, that he write his next book less for ‘validity-minded’ tribes and more for members of the ‘reliability-minded’ tribe.

Godin, in a comment on the blog post, graciously responded: “The challenge isn’t to preach to the choir. The challenge is to give the choir ideas they can use to spread the word.”

What a wonderful exchange. I’m a big fan of both Chris Grams and Seth Godin. And I appreciate that Godin has defined his role in the mission of spreading the good news.

For thirty years I’ve heard the call for ‘creatives’ to learn to speak the language of business. As Roger Martin advises, it continues to be valuable advice. But it cuts both ways.

What we should not underemphasize is Dr. Martin’s call to the business leaders: Think. Become more like designers. In a world where innovation is truly strategic, creativity is an imperative.

Business leaders need to be open to changing their world view about creative work forces. Recognize and appreciate the differences. Create cultures where creativity flourishes.

Unless they do, they will be left with one bullet to compete— cutting costs. Not very strategic. Good luck on that.

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