Blog post

The Tyranny of More

By Hank Barnes | February 09, 2021 | 1 Comment


There is a force in business that plagues all of us.   It is most noticeable in marketing and sales (or maybe that is just were I look most often), but the impacts are far and wide.   It sits right in front of us; we all see it; but we can’t seem to find ways around it.   When we sit back and think about it; it is oppressive and stops us from doing what we want to do and know we should do.

It is the Tyranny of More.

More leads.   More content.  More products.  More pipeline.  More decisions.  More projects.  More hours. More. More. More. (Shout out to The Andrea True Connection)

The more we more, the more we:

  • Sacrifice quality for quantity, and get seduced by the bigger number of targets
  • Make decisions without enough research and rigor (leading to more bad decisions–which drives the need for more new decisions to course correct)
  • Tolerate mediocrity and poor conversion rates
  • Discover we don’t have time to put deep focus into many activities
  • Seek ways to appeal to others plagued by the Tyranny of More, giving them more of what they want, but less of what they need

Once we get stuck here, it is hard to break free.

“We are going to generate better leads this year”

“That’s great”

“As part of that, we will be generating less leads”

“No you won’t”

It really is hard to break free.

But, we need to.   All of our buying research shows that the companies that try to do less, have much better results.    They have the time and energy to put in the work to make better decisions.    For example,  free trials are everywhere, but many folks grab the trial and do little or nothing with it–they have too much to do.   Those buyers often have purchase regret.  Those doing less use the trial to validate assumptions and expectations–and they are happier for it.

That is but one example.

Colin Powell had a decision making formula that was basically summed up as “n=70%”, where n is the amount of information to decide.   His point was get enough information, and then “go with your gut.”   Don’t wait for n to equal 100%.   But what I fear is happening is The Tyranny of More is creating situations where many decisions are made when n is well below 70%.

Break free of the Tyranny of More a little at a time.  Some possible steps:

  • Pick one thing that you do or that matters to you and invest in it deeply.  Deeper research and exploration vs. surface skimming.
  • Study decision making best practices and add them to your approach for the critical decisions.
  • Create a robust ideal customer profile (not just lip service to one) and put focus there vs casting super broad nets–for both sales and marketing.
  • Analyze opportunities, projects, and decisions to determine which ones are the most important–and give them the focus they need, ignoring the meaningless ones.
  • Fight against the “and” movement.   “Yes, and” is a fantastic tool for improv and brainstorming.   But at some point, you have to choose and prioritize.   The more on the plate, the less effective everything becomes.
  • Help your peers and prospects recognize when they are servants to the Tyranny of More and work together to break free.

Breaking free from the Tyranny of More is a challenge for all of us.   But the freedom will be liberating and impactful.


The Gartner Blog Network provides an opportunity for Gartner analysts to test ideas and move research forward. Because the content posted by Gartner analysts on this site does not undergo our standard editorial review, all comments or opinions expressed hereunder are those of the individual contributors and do not represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management.

Leave a Comment

1 Comment

  • Kevin Murray says:

    This is a great observation, and I’ve been guilty of this as well as being on the receiving end. This challenge is compounded by internal competition within the organization. The sales leader for x product has a target to hit, while the product owner for a new y product needs a successful launch. Sales, Product, and marketing need to be on the same page; and marketing needs an equal seat in that discussion. Some or all of the team has to accept less for their preferred project so that the overall business can be more successful. If done right, those who gave some ground initially will reap the benefits later from the overall health of the business.