“What is marketing?” were the opening words of my Marketing 101 professor on the first day of class, all too many years ago. His question received a myriad of responses filled with business jargon and hyped words – sales, promotion, advertising, targeting… “No” he said. “Marketing is defining your market, understanding the needs of that market, and fulfilling those needs.”
If you wish to start a business, new product-line, campaign, or almost any new endeavor, these simple words of advice are perhaps the most valuable ones you can follow. However, they are the ones least heeded and followed by even the most sophisticated entrepreneurs and managers. All too many new business ventures, and political campaigns for that matter, build a ‘cool’ new product, and then try to hard-sell it to as many people as possible. The attitude is to ‘get in, get out’, making as much money in as little time as possible; creating ‘needs’ rather than fulfilling those already there.
The main problem is that the majority of people are so caught up in and swayed by their own personal biases or misconceptions that they rarely see what is right under their noses, and even less what is at the periphery of their consciousness. As Emily Pronina states in Perception & Misperception of Bias in Human Judgment, “People are not always accurate and objective at perceiving themselves, their circumstances and those around them. People's perceptions can be biased by their beliefs, expectations and context, as well as by their needs, motives and desires. Such biases have important consequences. They can compromise the quality of human judgment and decision making, and they can cause misunderstanding and conflict…”
As technology becomes more and more complex and sophisticated, and the competition to break into global markets increasingly rigorous, societies are faced with the ever-present and arduous tasks of producing a work-force, and societies, capable of keeping up with it all. Dictatorial management style and supple-side, macro-economics of the past are no longer useful, functional, or desirable in today’s world; be it the business world or in our personal lives and relationships.
In this arena the antiquated male, Alpha, personality is both dysfunctional and counter-productive. Betty Friedan in her best seller, The Second Stage, described this masculine, or Alpha, style as “evolv[ing] into a dominant position out of the countless survival crises confronting our primitive ancestors. A harsh style, intent on controlling and manipulating the environment to reduce known threats, it viewed the word as a place where ‘mastery is essential to the attainment of one’s niche’… [This] is effective in mastering the physical world and in implementing short-range tasks… But, it has serious drawbacks and limitations for today’s most urgent problems, which increasingly involve people, not things, and where events are in flux and there is no single answer or fixed hierarchy; rather, fluid shifts of power are needed to meet each situation."