Here are parts of some comments people have recently posted on a well known website. Can you guess what they are talking about?
- “I decided to jump onto the hype…”
- “I didn’t have great expectations… but I was still disappointed”
- “I bought this after all my friends, one after the other said they were.. “
- “I am lucky, I did not have to buy it, because personally, if I had contributed to the fortune that has been made from this disturbing trash I doubt there are sufficient penances in the world for me to perform to atone for my crass error of judgement.”
- “OK I only bought this because of the hype.”
- “I am so cross I succumbed to the marketing …”
- “I downloaded this because my friends were hammering on about it. Yep, I was a sheep.”
No they are not talking about a piece of application software from a major vendor.. but about a book that has sold in very large numbers this year, in the category of ‘romantic’ fiction. Many people commenting on Amazon clearly wish they had not succumbed to the peer pressure or herd instinct that caused them to buy and read it. Despite their gut instinct and usual avoidance of that genre, they somehow felt compelled. The force of social contagion is incredibly powerful. Smart, highly educated, analytical people can betray their better judgement because of it.
Your next major business or technology investment decision is just as susceptible to this force. You can easily be swayed if it appears that everyone else is joining in. Standing away from the market and waiting, feels lonely and more risky than jumping aboard. But often – waiting until the time is right for your company situation, is exactly the right move.
This year, Gartner is publishing over 90 hype cycles ( subscription required ) covering more than 1900 innovations in many different technology related domains . You can use that research, to stay logical and remind yourself of the inevitable pattern of hype, disillusionment and eventual recovery.
Gartner doesn’t have a position on this summer’s fiction paperback best seller, but I can tell you mine: I won’t be reading it. I doubt that the momentary satisfaction of voicing an opinion at a dinner table will be worth it. I can always read it 2 years from now .. once the market has formed a collective conclusion on its real value.