mediocrity is perceived as bad

The flood of features

Photo by Mueen Agherdien on Unsplash

I suppose it happens to you so many times: buying a modern product and then realizing there are so many bugs that it is frustrating to use it, or having the basic scenarios covered but when moving to the next level there is a mix of excellent and mediocre features.

Should we all expect excellency in the products around us? What are the top features valued for a specific product? In my opinion, there is a market for products that are mixing their features, exactly because the named market is also vertically segmented by users’ needs.

Having too many options (overchoice) seems to create anxiety and to delay the buying process, which is not good for your health and your time.

Splitting the product by features

I witnessed many times people perplexed by the multitude of features and annoyed because the ones they use were buried behind a complex interface. Or customers asking for shortcuts in order to get their most used features.

One post (mentioned in Shape Up book) I read recently was about Basecamp and their decision to implement a reduced implementation of a calendar widget.

Other article about CRMs was collecting comments of business users complaining about having use of only 30% of the product but paying for the full fledged version.

And the funniest of all was also from Jason Fried (from Basecamp) saying he bought a sauna from classifieds and he is satisfied even if he did not have the full information about what is the “best” product on the market, or to put it in simpler terms, buy a vehicle unseen and not caring if it breaks the next day or if you have to fix it in the next six months or if it is going to outlast all cars on the street.

The role of mediocrity

I think there is space for mediocrity, and you reach that level in the life of a company (or even personal life) after spending some time in the beginner phase. You might get customers when your features are different or presented in a new perspective. I always mention Facebook as an example, at the beginning, or SpaceX, when they used to buy the engine rockets from Russia. It is a dynamic market for each domain – EVs, social media, VR, etc.. with perceived leaders and then the competition begins when the market just explodes. If you have read about Toyota or Honda Motors debut in US, they had a long way to become what they are today.

Mediocrity is a phase, the companies perceived as such may be the leaders of tomorrow or may stay there a long period until the market destruction or transformation changes them. We are not consuming products at the superlative level, it is the average quality which makes our life as it is.

Accept mediocrity (and maybe wish for more)

Accept mediocrity and maybe try to move to the next level, if needed. The fact that we have many companies chasing the same market and working in parallel to offer in fact the same product tells you that we rarely use top of the line products. The trailblazers may have a short lifespan (see Blackberry Nokia, Palm in mobile phones only) but surely color our life.

Bottom line

Photo by Jacques Bopp on Unsplash

Mediocrity is part of our life, even statistically it is hard to live by employing only the superlative of the products.

but is part of our life, for most of the time