Niche exaggerations

During consulting people I observed that people - especially those who have overall a poor outlook due to poor performance or other issues - seem to share one problem:

They fall prey to a simple trap of life: Whenever they find a niche (or what they perceive as an opportunity) they're proceeding to exploit it as much as possible. As a result, they focus on it far too much and usually exaggerate the size of the niche/opportunity.
The consequence is usually that even otherwise promising concepts fail because the decision-maker wants to squeeze it into a much too small niche.

My discussions about this usually go like

Me "You should not focus so much on A, more diversification is required."

Them "But I have such a great strength in this area, it's such a great thing!"

Me "Maybe, but it's much better to look at it as the icing of the cake. The main promise is in the regular thing."

Them "But I have such a great strength in this area, it's such a great thing!"

Me "Look, it may be great, but that niche is so small. See? I can even calculate for you on a napkin that it won't work if you focus on it."

Them "But I have such a great strength in this area, it's such a great thing!"

Me "Wouldn't it be great to have the regular thing AND the extra thing?"

Them "But I have such a great strength in this area, it's such a great thing!"

Well, quite like that.

I'm clearly no psychologist and have neither the inclination to look up if any psychologist already described this trap nor am I inclined to publish a paper on it.

I did nevertheless begin to wonder if this excessive fascination with a niche that's not the regular thing might be part of the explanation why people fall so much in love with (military) technology gadgets and shiny new concepts with a rat's tail of new buzzwords. The patterns look so awfully close, especially in the resilience against numbers trailed by a currency symbol.

We're badly lacking more, better and faster progress in many areas, but too many new things still turn out to be too specific or vastly exaggerated in their utility.

Maybe if someone could find a way to defeat this psychological lock-on on an exaggeration, maybe we could save billions, years and maybe even many many lives this way?

S Ortmann


  1. Nice post, also some of the tech love affair, might be it is easy for non military people to see. If you say this tech is 2x as fast and has 4x the range as the one before it, people who know little if anything about the military think like i have a celluar phone that is better than the one I had years ago. They don't think how does this fit into a platoon, brigade, or into the overall military org., they may not even know what a platoon is. If it cost more it has to be better right, I mean all that ectra money must make it better right? (more money doesn't always mean better).

    I assume the long time between post was your taking time to work on your book, how many pages did you get? Have a name for the book?


  2. I was busy with other things, albeit the experimentation phase with the book is done and now comes a period with enough spare time. The title will stay a working title of little relevance till I get into touch with a publisher.
    The next two months will see a lot of progress.

  3. Are you saying that there isn't enough room between the 5.56 and 7.62 Nato to justify the 6.5 Grenel round?

  4. I guess I would be terribly interested how you came up with a connection between this post and calibres if I wasn't too tired.

    1. The niche between the standard NATO/US rounds: The infinite hairsplitting of a mature technology in search of an imaginary perfection. Not all niches are meant, or worth, being filled.

  5. People should find what they do well, and then do the hell out of it. Einstein was crap in school, likely because he was bored and told to stop doing things he excelled at (math) and do more of things he did poorly.

    This is not to say people should end up so deficient in some areas that they are handicapped. But given BASIC capability across the board, let people run with whatever floats their boat.

    If the organization can't deal with that by leveraging the strengths of these people, it sounds like the organization has deeper issues with effective resource utilization.

  6. Maybe the, "But I have such a great strength in this area, it's such a great thing!"
    was taken like "But IT HAS such a great strength in this area, it's such a great thing!".

    Best I could come up with, if that isn't it I got nothing.



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