The momentum of socializing ideas

The author drawing nonsense on a window while a colleague thinks about something else.

In many situations your ability to succeed relies on your ability to make progress in a specific direction without pissing off the people who you perceive to be in your way.

P = D - (2 * PoP)

Progress = Direction - (2x hits against you for every person you piss off)

For every person not bought in, there is a sizable impact to your ability to progress. It’s generally a losing battle.

This is a concept I have fought for roughly my entire life. Why should I waste my time explaining this? It’s the perfect answer, let’s just do it my way. One way to describe my past theory on this matter would be unintentional arrogance— and that would be accurate.

So how to create progress? There are several models to work within, I’ll focus on these two for the purposes of discussion:

  1. Not playing the game: Playing by your own rules. Pure pragmatic efficiency. Live to make headway, to make things, to feel that sweet hit of progress. This model is where I spent a majority of my career.
  2. Playing the game: Carefully developing your intuitions about your surroundings. Understanding how to work within the system. It’s politics, but at a smaller scale. Create progress through alliances and shared understanding of your ideas. Better yet create momentum. That sweet hit of progress? It becomes infectious, and others take it on too.

I do not live to spend my time socializing work. Generally speaking, convincing others of the direction we should take is exhausting. But I have found a shocking amount of value in it. Socialization creates momentum. Socialization creates new fans of your idea, and ideally it gives your idea credibility you could never produce on your own.

Find a group of well respected individuals in your organization. Bonus points for finding the truly valuable— those who think critically and will give real (often hard to hear) feedback. Socialize your work with them, take their feedback seriously, and move your idea forward.

I switched models when I finally learned this lesson: Momentum created through socialization is nearly unstoppable.

-Andy