Elephants & The Self-Discovery of Utility

Is Your Secret Sauce Hidden or Dispersed?

Do you do many things?

There is a well known parable –  a story about blind men & an elephant. The story goes that these men were asked to approach an elephant & describe what they found. You can imagine their confusion. The size & power of the elephant is easily hidden.

One found the tusk, one found a leg, one found the trunk etc

I was talking with Kimberley Reynolds recently & I learned about her parallel journey to discover Listly. Information excess is like a digital blindfold. It stops us seeing the full picture. It explains why simplicity works. It explains how how and why digital marketing folk need to think about chunking and bite-sizing our story:

  • She’s discovered Listly & found a bookmarking tools
  • She’d more recently discovered Listly as a content source to embed her list & the lists of others on here blog
  • She’d not appreciated Listly’s value as a tool to build community & crowdsource content.

As with so many things in life this was largely as self-service process.

We live in a world of self-discovery

It doesn’t matter how or why you discover Listly or what Listly is to you, what matters is that over time you appreciate its many uses. As you discover more uses, you get to use it more frequently.

  • Often people discover Listly because someone else used it on their blog.
  • Often it takes multiple uses to trigger people to use a new tool.
  • Often we get busy or distracted, when we return things have changed, got better, simpler etc

This story of the elephant reminded me of the true difference between a tool & an app.

This really ends up being a great way to communicate the difference between a tool & an app (it’s a classic software definition but its meaning today has been eroded  due to the rise of “Apps”, the “Apps store” & Apple.

Tools vs Apps (Applications)

Apps were classically Tools that were applied to a single job or task.

The classic view was that:

  • A Tool can do many jobs e.g. Word, Powerpoint, Illustrator, Photoshop, Excel, Listly, YouTube
  • An App can do one job e.g. a Resume App, a Restaurant Menu App, a Currency Conversion App.
  • Tools have more power, but require you to do more work to discover their value (or more tips)
  • Apps have a quicker path to value (there is only one path).
  • Tools are better when you use a tool for many reasons.
  • Apps are best when you use them infrequently.

Learning About Self Discovery

I thought this experience was really interesting & something you can apply to your business.

  • How do people discover your products/services?
  • How do they come to appreciate why & how you are unique?

Do they get your full story immediately? Do you need to break your story down into to small bite-sized chunks?

What parallels can you draw to this process? Can you help people learn about you quicker as a result.

Here’s a short deck to help you appreciate the utility Listly can bring to your personal brand, your blog, and your business. I switch metaphors from Elephants to Swiss Army knives.

One Tool / Many Uses. The Power of Discovering Utility

Image Credit: epsos via Flickr / Creative Commons

NIck Kellet (130 Posts)

Nick’s ventures range from a visual segmentation tool sold to SAP, to an award winning board game. Today, Nick is co-founder of Listly, raising the profile of lists to be on par with Slideshare & YouTube.