Veto! Taleb on the awesome power of the small minority

I just read a fascinating post by philosopher statistician Nassim Nicholas Taleb, which explains why it often only takes a small number of determined, intolerant people to change decisions affecting everyone else. It’s a simple concept really. Managers (and indeed world leaders) find it hugely tempting to pander to an intransigent minority if the flexible majority likely won’t notice or care.

I’ve always been rather fond of awkward people in the workplace because, as George Bernard Shaw once said, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” But Taleb’s article has reminded me of the need watch out for those who shout loudest.

Like all businesses, it’s really important that we listen to our customers. They don’t just pay the bills – they’re partners in determining our strategy and priorities too. However, the most vocal users and enterprises aren’t always right. When you’re building something completely new, it’s easy to dream up bad user experiences and redundant features. Customers are no more immune to this risk than entrepreneurs are – constant vigilance is required.

At Yapster we’re lucky that our CTO and co-founder Craig has an analytics background so he can ensure any product development decisions are backed up by data. We’ve found that our customers tend to appreciate Craig’s experience and are open to having their assumptions challenged. We all just want what’s best for the product and the end user.

You can check out Taleb’s article here. If you’re a leader who regularly has to make decisions on behalf of customers or colleagues, I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on the topic.


Yapster Admin