Beware the gulf of disapproval

As your new idea spreads, most people who hear about it will dislike it.

Gulf of disapproval.001

               (click to enlarge)

Start at the left. Your new idea, your proposal to the company, your new venture, your innovation—no one knows about it.

As you begin to promote it, most of the people (the red line) who hear about it don't get it. They think it's a risky scheme, a solution to a problem no one has or that it's too expensive. Or some combination of the three.

And this is where it would stop, except for the few people on the blue line. These are the early adopters, the believers, and some of them are sneezers. They tell everyone they can about your new idea.

Here's the dangerous moment. If you're keeping track of all the people who hate what you've done, you'll give up right here and right now. This is when the gulf of disapproval is at its maximum. This happened to the telephone, to the web, to rap music… lots of people have heard of it, but the number of new fans (the blue line) is far smaller than the number of well-meaning (but in this case, wrong) people on the red line.

Sometimes, if you persist, the value created for the folks on the blue line begins to compound. And so your fans persist and one by one, convert some of the disapproving. Person by person, they shift from being skeptics to accepting the new status quo.

When the gulf of disapproval comes, don't track the red line. Count on the blue one instead.