The Minority Rule

An interesting concept for those sellers who enjoy steeping yourselves in deal politics.

I’ve blogged before on how revolutions can gain unstoppable momentum from having a tiny percentage of the populace on board (sub5pc; perhaps even a threshold as low as 3pc). Forget the Roman imperialist rule of thumb that decimation – one in ten opposing army combatants slain – forced subservience. Numbers reduced yet further in the book Microtrends, which suggests simply that 1 in 100 can affect change.

This phenomenon is expanded upon lately by Nassim Taleb. From the coining by French complexity physicist, Serge Galam. He terms it the Minority Rule. As Rory Sutherland sums up (roughly 26m36s in here) where;

“a small intransigent minority can prevent the majority from adopting a mildly preferred solution”.

Citing such as Kosher soft drinks and halal food now being practically the only offering across the Western board. As well as why pizza is the default party food, and any mixed-gender party has (white) wine offered up.

He expands elsewhere (as summarised by his friend Nassim Nicholas Taleb) to suggest a supposedly hybrid team will become in practice a remote one as, ‘if 9 persons can make it to a physical meeting, and a single one can’t, high probability the meeting will be on Zoom’. With further illustration given from, ‘a meeting in Germany with 9 german speakers + 1 nonTeutonic the meeting will be in English’.

In the swirl of a bid, I sense a similar construct can be at play.

There’s a majority behind your pitch.

Yet commitment eludes. Momentum mortally fades.

Especially true when your naysayer holds the purse strings. Or some other seemingly ‘technical’ permission granter with whom others may be deemed ill-equipped to argue.

When does your ‘decision making unit’ revert from majority rule to unanimity-only?

One voice, one vote as subdued as in China.

Worth finding out up front.

The minority holds sway apparently when the costs of doing so make it the easy option and the majority don’t really mind.

Neither of which state surely applying when you’ve a game-changing, money printing, career enhancing proposal on the table.

So are you ready to get this over to those in your camp?

Preparing them to have the tricky conversations with their difficult colleagues?

Knowing precisely the facts and the feelings behind why the plan must succeed?

Halting such ‘renormalisation’ and such undeserving veto power the key to gaining agreement.

And that’s before we get to the converse.

Where you may only have a minority supporting you.

Can you show them they can gain go-ahead regardless – even with mitigation measures – because what you unleash will not impinge on anyone else and it is really important to them alone, in a live and let live style?

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