Helping People Cross That Chasm

There is a canyon in Nepal that people have been crossing for years by going 20 miles around the valley.

What might be a better way?

You could help them with a few possible solutions:

  • For example, building stairs to walk straight down, cross the canyon and climb right back up.
  • Teaching people how to jump across.
  • Flying them over the canyon with a helicopter.
  • Building a bridge.
  • Installing a zip line like this one.
  • Selling them jet packs.
  • Inventing teleportation.

What’s your choice?

The best way is not just the best technical option. It’s also the options people will adopt. So the best way is also their choice.

Innovation = invention + adoption.

It seems trivial, but adoption is most of the time an afterthought. This flaw leads 70% of startups to fail during years two through five.


In the case of my canyon example, building stairs might be cheap and could accommodate many people, but it’s not going to be fast or comfortable. Teleportation will be amazing but hugely expensive and unlikely to happen anytime soon, if at all.

People will adopt a new solution depending on what they value and what they will trade to adopt it. In the canyon case, will it be safety, price, speed, experience, time, certainty, comfort, or prestige? Unfortunately, the answer to this question is typically hard to find and often found the hard way.

But if you can suggest a new interpretation of what crossing the canyon might look like–a new strategic narrative–you will impact people’s adoption decision. But, of course, you will also have to make sure your values align.

As a result, you will be more likely to help them more efficiently cross that chasm.

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