April 12, 2012
THE 99 THEORY
This theory is about relevance- a seemingly trifling word that has huge implications when it comes to communication – particularly in a world that is flooded with too much information.
The theory derives from the observation that 99% of the time we go about our daily lives with one thing in mind. Our selves. Me, my, mine and i. It’s not surprising – after all, we’re in our bodies and a body needs constant attention. Am I hot? Am I cold? Am I hungry? Do I need to pee? etc. We are all ‘I’ primates, first (99% of the time), and members of the larger community, second.
Well, the point that follows from this is that if you want to connect with someone, you need to get into their 99. Hmm… Yes, if you want to engineer a way to be relevant to them, you’re going to have to look at things as they do 99% of the time – not the way you do. In doing so, you might actually enjoy some of the richness that’s conveyed in the idea of ‘connecting with someone’. It’s easier said than done, so don’t be blasé about it. The primal default established by our Darwinian ancestors is to think about oneself, first – survival of the fittest ‘n all that. So, we are actually going against the grain by thinking about others first.
The 99 Theory is particularly significant when it comes to communication. Actually, it’s significant in any kind of service business or relationship play, and communication is a service business. We communicate with the intention of serving someone else’s interests, so that they’ll pay attention. It’s kind of obvious, but often overlooked, that anyone entering into a service relationship needs to be able to look at things from their customer’s perspective… not their own. Or, they at least need to be able to see the other person’s needs as well as their own. They have to if they want to be successful. We all know there are people working in the ‘service’ industry, who shouldn’t be. Some people just can’t get into other peoples’ 99′s… or don’t want to. It’s a problem if you’re behind an airline counter, or you’re a greeter at Wal-Mart. Not such a problem if you work in accounting.
So, how often do you really get in to another person’s 99 in your daily lives? (We did in the Sixties… but that’s another story =(:(|) I’m not going to tell you I can help you do it; I’m just giving you a theoretical notion you can keep top-of-mind the next time you really want to connect with someone. Think about what is occupying his or her thoughts and dreams in their 99.
My life is about developing creative solutions for people. There are times when it’s totally in my 99 to create some gorgeous piece of communication confectionery, using the latest production technology that’s just the bee’s knees. But I have to stop myself. Getting in the other person’s 99, I realize that what they want is not that at all. What’s in their 99 is something that’s hard-hitting, content driven, a little rough around the edges, and makes them look good to their boss. Holy sudden realization, Batman! That’s going to change things a bit.
By the way, I have another theory that’s somewhat of a corollary to the 99 Theory – the B.S. Theory. You may be interested in that one, too.