The current theory about the nature of our universe describes an ever-expanding system.
The Sloan Digital Sky Survey describes the three possibilities pictured on the right as follows.
- Open, suggests that the universe will expand forever
- Flat, the universe will also expand forever, but at a rate slowing to zero after an infinite amount of time.
- Closed, the universe will eventually stop expanding and recollapse on itself,
These possibilities also apply to the concepts of markets, cultures and geography. Yes, I said geography and it is your sense of doubt that both interests me and is the subject of this post.
Life on the Frontier
Ongoing expansion, what I like to call the more the more can be difficult to see; principally because we recognize boundaries before we understand the opportunity. What we know doesn’t come to exhaust what’s knowable and often great opportunities present by pushing forward into the unknowable realm. For example, the concept of reproduction naturally creates many from one, ideas too, tend to generate more ideas, one event spawns multiple stories. So why does our mind resist the concept of the more the more so earnestly? You did, didn’t you? In each example, your mind naturally generated the counter case or qualifications that challenge basic beliefs in loose conceptions such as the more the more. Don’t get me wrong, edges prove very useful. Knowing the beginning or that the end is at hand helps, and the more the more merely builds on that realization.
Inability to see an idea’s validity doesn’t preclude its existence. New concepts find their way into our web of understanding; however more often they are quickly buried by every day experiences that prove the contrary. Consider the construct, “the United States.” The idea finds expression in a variety of forms, separated by clear boundaries. Which popped for you? Perhaps the United States appears in your thoughts as a very concrete physical representation such as part of the North American continent, or as an outline on a map. Neither of these describes the emotional representations conjured in the minds of a new citizen, a tourist or a terrorist.
Utility theory by contrast, attributes a root cause to the propagation phenomena that perpetuates an expectation of quid pro quo, Value for Value. I work in exchange for money that I can use to buy things. Economic principles and monetary theory captures much of the same concepts but is a poor substitute for a universal theory.
Specific, General or Generic
Our mind seamlessly associates specific, general and generic cases of a single construct into a curious looking web of meaning. Some strands loosely connect on the periphery, while others layer more tightly together around a series of cores. The meaning that first comes to mind, doesn’t negate the others but may need other distant cross-associations to remind us.
Let’s talk markets. Most of us spend a significant part of our day working, where we work, or what we do represents a market and our labor factors into the dynamics. We also consume things, and the choices we make on which items, where and when represents our participation in other markets. For example, urban societies prefer to cover their feet. The look –structure and style of these coverings tend to vary by climate, activity and gender. Our mind recognizes the common linkage of the numerous names attached to the variations of these objects that cover feet. On this level of linkage, we may attach the same basic utility to all foot coverings. That utility takes on more definitions and attributes when we consider our attachment to our culture and desire to fit in. Do foot coverings in India equate to the usefulness of foot coverings in Brazil or New York City? I cheated just now, I interchanged usefulness with utility to help ease your mind. To validate the more the more try suspending the first boundary you meet and search your memory banks and reach for greater understanding.
Do you feel ready to put that insight to work in your business? To grow or better serve the marketplace, we often have to re-imagine the boundaries.
If there’s a dominant player in your market, how might redefining the market give you a bigger share?
Don’t let the edges or boundaries you see stop you from challenging the value of this representation? You don’t have to challenge the sovereignty of the United States to recognize that there are ideas that transcend the concrete borders, and capitalizing on those may help you serve your existing markets better and expand into new ones easily.