Increase Your Zoomwidth Like Seth Godin

Zooming means "doing the same thing as usual, only different."
Zooming means “doing the same thing as usual, only different.”
Image by alan9187 from Pixabay

I’ve been reading Small is the New Big by Seth Godin today, and there was a highly relevant essay in this 2006 book. He discussed the concept of zooming.

2006 was a different time. Twitter would not be invented for another year. The housing boom was incredible with no end in sight. Zoom Video Communications was 5 years in the future.

When Godin said zooming, he meant “doing the same thing as usual, only different.” Most people are resistant to change because change is hard, painful, and expensive. However, expanding the horizons of what you are already doing is inspiring and exciting. During the crisis of Covid-19 that we now face, the companies best able to adapt by zooming rather than changing will dominate the new market.

Apple is a company that has been a mighty zoomer. They reached into market spaces from communications to video games to music to shopping, but they were able to do so because they had a wide zoomwidth.

Zoomwidth is how broad you perceive your existing domain to be, and thus how far you can move and pivot without having to deal with the painful process of change.

Rolling Stone magazine never became as big as MTV because their zoomwidth was narrow. Their ideas were limited by their self perception as a magazine while MTV saw themselves as a cultural medium.

Best Version Media, whom I work with, has a broad zoomwidth. Our CEO Dave Durand often reminds us that we are not a magazine company, we are a results company, and community magazines get results so we publish magazines. We are constantly researching and developing new ideas that will also serve the same mission of connecting local businesses to local communities. When we deploy one of these products, it won’t be changing, it will be zooming: doing the same thing as usual only different.

During the Covid-19 crisis, there’s a lot of different, and a lot of adaptation. Those businesses with a broad zoomwidth are better able to adapt quickly, because they don’t have to deal with the convulsions associate with rapid, urgent change.

As I speak with Realtors, I find some are in utter despair while others are more successful than ever. What’s the difference? The ones who saw the quarantine and said, “I work in person, and now I can’t work,” are paralyzed. The ones who said, “I work with people, and now I can’t work with people in person like I’m used to, so let’s look at how else we can do this,” are continuing to do business.

Best Version Media has always worked through in person meetings. We had no method for remote presentation, but our concept was that our publishers worked with local business owners, not that we worked with them in person. Our zoomwidth accommodated the concept of remote presentations. This allowed us to pivot rapidly and maintain activity almost without interruption.

Your business has likely been disrupted as well. Perhaps you have adapted easily, and perhaps you are completely shut down. Examine your own zoomwidth. Is it too narrow? Could you redefine your core competency more broadly to incorporate a line of business that can function under quarantine conditions?

Now is the time when flexibility and quick adaptation will be rewarded greatly. How broad is your zoomwidth?

Michael Whitehouse is the author of The Guy Who Knows A Guy, publisher of Mystic Neighbors and Niantic Neighbors for Best Version Media, and a business coach for businesses looking to untangle knotty problems such as adapting to new realities. To contact him, click here.

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