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BLOGCritical Mass

by Randall CraigFiled in: Blog, Blogging, Career Planning, Communication, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Social Media, Strategy

What do Google, Apple, HP, Facebook, and General Motors have in common?  Those with a financial background might suggest that each of these companies has a market capitalization in the billions.  The patriotic would suggest that each is an example of American ingenuity – and that each represented the best in their day.  But on a recent trip through Silicon Valley in California, I noticed something else:  each has made a substantial investment in the area:  yes, and that includes General Motors.  The question, is why.

What each of these high tech companies know is that magical things happen when there is critical mass.  Many educational institutions graduate highly skilled staff.  A strong venture capital community provides financing.  Many companies provide employment opportunities, attracting more skilled workers, financial resources, and entrepreneurial high-tech energy.

GM doesn’t have a factory in Silicon Valley making cars, it has a brain trust working on GM’s most advanced automotive software: autonomous vehicles, electric vehicles, and so on.  GM is there so it can take advantage of this critical mass, and achieve a competitive advantage through innovation.  And it realizes that recruiting the best software engineers means recruiting in Silicon Valley.  (It also means recognizing that a silicon valley is far more appealing than… Detroit.)

While Critical Mass as a concept is important on an industry or geographical level, it is also useful at the corporate level, albeit with a different name: Focus.  The more focused an organization is, the greater the “internal” critical mass:  people work towards tighter common goals, less effort is spent on extraneous activities, and external branding becomes tighter.


The concepts of Focus and Critical Mass work at the personal level as well.  Think about it: do all of your activities mesh together into a critical mass?  Or are they so disjointed and unrelated that developing a synergy benefit from your efforts is just about impossible?  This week, spend a few minutes considering where you need to develop stronger focus, and spend less time on those things that weaken it.

Marketing Insight: Critical Mass is an online key success factor too.  If you are doing so little that nobody notices, then your efforts are pretty much wasted.  (Of course, if you do so much that it overwhelms, your audience will become disengaged, also an unproductive outcome.)  Developing Digital Critical Mass isn’t merely a focus on quantity, but a focus on the quality of your efforts: carve out a niche that helps define who you are, aimed at a defined target market.  Then execute the plan on the platforms frequented by them.

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