By now most of us are aware of business fads, especially in training and management. An idea or method becomes a fad within a particular social group when many in the group adopt it for a time, and then let it go. Fads usually grow rapidly in popularity, and they're often identified as fads only after their popularity peaks.
The term fad is usually a term of disdain. Once we identify a fad, we tend to dismiss it. But for ideas and methods, faddishness doesn't necessarily imply absence of value because widespread adoption often indicates real intrinsic value.
Because dismissing something just because it's a fad could be a mistake, it's useful to understand the source of value for ideas and methods that become fads.
- Fads are specific to groups
- Widespread adoption within a group can give an idea or method the properties of a fad, even if it isn't adopted globally. For instance, Silly Bandz® are a fad among the young, but many adults don't even know what Silly Bandz are.
- We each belong to numerous groups — our own organizations, our industries, cultures, demographic slices, and more. All are capable of fad behavior.
- Widespread adoption can degrade value
- If the idea or method confers advantage on adopters, early adopters benefit, but once it achieves fad status, advantages can vanish. For instance, mirroring is a communication technique that helps users build rapport with others. But when the user's communication partner recognizes the use of mirroring, a feeling of being manipulated can result.
- Early rejecters of a fad can gain advantage, just as early adopters can, if they're among the first to curtail investment when the fad no longer provides advantages.
- Widespread rejection can restore value
- Once an idea or Early adopters of a fad benefit,
but once the fad achieves fad
status, advantages can vanishmethod achieves fad status, its use can wane, and people sometimes forget it. Thereafter, new members of the group might never have learned about the fad. If the value of the fad declined as a result of widespread use, its value can then return.
- Fads that have been passé long enough can confer significant advantages on early re-adopters.
- If you adopt a fad unknowingly, you might wrongly conclude that it's useless
- Those who adopt an idea or method near its peak of popularity or later might wrongly conclude that it has little value. If the value to adopters arises from being among the minority who use it, and users are the majority, their experience will suggest that it has little value, when in fact, the idea or method might actually be very valuable when users are a minority.
- Before adopting an idea method, determine the source of its value. Is value inherent, or is value determined by what others do?
Is your organization embroiled in Change? Are you managing a change effort that faces rampant cynicism, passive non-cooperation, or maybe even outright revolt? Read 101 Tips for Managing Change to learn how to survive, how to plan and how to execute change efforts to inspire real, passionate support. Order Now!
Your comments are welcomeWould you like to see your comments posted here? rbrenmhXARWRMUvVyOdHlner@ChacxgDmtwOKrxnripPCoCanyon.comSend me your comments by email, or by Web form.
About Point Lookout
Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful, and that you'll consider recommending it to a friend.
Support Point Lookout by joining the Friends of Point Lookout, as an individual or as an organization.
Do you face a complex interpersonal situation? Send it in, anonymously if you like, and I'll give you my two cents.
More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:
- Diagonal Collaborations: Dazzling or Dangerous?
- Collaborations can be very productive. There are some traps though, especially when the collaborators
are of different rank, with the partner of lower rank reporting to a peer of the other. Here are some
tips for preventing conflict in diagonal collaborations.
- When It's Just Not Your Job
- Has your job become frustrating because the organization has lost its way? Is circumventing the craziness
making you crazy too? How can you recover your perspective despite the situation?
- The Focusing Illusion in Organizations
- The judgments we make at work, like the judgments we make elsewhere in life, are subject to human fallibility
in the form of cognitive biases. One of these is the Focusing Illusion. Here are some examples to watch for.
- Team Risks
- Working in teams is necessary in most modern collaborations, but teamwork does carry risks. Here are
some risks worth mitigating.
- Planning Disappointments
- When we plan projects, we make estimates of total costs and expected delivery dates. Often these estimates
are so wrong — in the wrong direction — that we might as well be planning disappointments.
Why is this?
See also Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness for more related articles.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming April 15: Incompetence: Traps and Snares
- Sometimes people judge as incompetent colleagues who are unprepared to carry out their responsibilities. Some of these "incompetents" are trapped or ensnared in incompetence, unable to acquire the ability to do their jobs. Available here and by RSS on April 15.
- And on April 22: Intentionally Misreporting Status: I
- When we report the status of the work we do, we sometimes confront the temptation to embellish the good news or soften the bad news. How can we best deal with these obstacles to reporting status with integrity? Available here and by RSS on April 22.
I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenmhXARWRMUvVyOdHlner@ChacxgDmtwOKrxnripPCoCanyon.com or (650) 787-6475, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.
Get the ebook!
Past issues of Point Lookout are available in six ebooks:
- Get 2001-2 in Geese Don't Land on Twigs (PDF, )
- Get 2003-4 in Why Dogs Wag (PDF, )
- Get 2005-6 in Loopy Things We Do (PDF, )
- Get 2007-8 in Things We Believe That Maybe Aren't So True (PDF, )
- Get 2009-10 in The Questions Not Asked (PDF, )
- Get all of the first twelve years (2001-2012) in The Collected Issues of Point Lookout (PDF, )
Are you a writer, editor or publisher on deadline? Are you looking for an article that will get people talking and get compliments flying your way? You can have 500 words in your inbox in one hour. License any article from this Web site. More info
- Bullet Points: Mastery or Madness?
Decision-makers in modern organizations commonly demand briefings in the form of bullet points or a series of series of bullet points. But this form of presentation has limited value for complex decisions. We need something more. We actually need to think. Briefers who combine the bullet-point format with a variety of persuasion techniques can mislead decision-makers, guiding them into making poor decisions. Read more about this program.
Here are some dates for this program:
- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.