Circles of Convenience

Allan points out that Warren Buffet and Benjamin Graham invested in Circles of Competence. The idea is to buy what you know.

Too often, organizations confuse this with circles of convenience. They stick to the tactics, products, people and channels that they are comfortable with, instead of rethinking what the market demands.

When Amazon offered the New York Times millions of dollars in affiliate revenue a decade ago, the paper turned them down because they feared losing Barnes and Noble as an advertiser. This is a convenient decision, but clearly not a smart one.

When companies look to hire new talent, they often go where they've gone before, because it's convenient. When newly minted MBAs go job hunting, they often go to the placement office because it's convenient as well.

Convenience is hugely attractive in organizations because it is easy to defend and easy to approve. You don't need to call a meeting to try something new, because the convenient option has already been approved. The problem is that convenient approaches rarely break through or generate extraordinary returns.