Water and sand, bees and ants as well as large herds and crowds, all follow a common principle. Frozen water sticks to it and aims for the valley. Pheromones show it to ants. Herds of animals adapt to each other, in order to find it. Even in the crush of a crowd of people, they all find it and create thereby order – the path of least resistance.
For some people it is the best way, since they connect little effort with maximum impact -although some aspects are not always desirable.
- The way that everybody goes
As soon as this path appears, all and everything follows this way. Regardless of whether it is snow or sand, the discovered attractor, i.e. the place, where all energies go, attracts you magically. In competition that is not really the path that should be aimed for, since you will be where everybody is and the fewest differentiators are found. The answer to the question about your originality, the Unique Selling proposition (USP), lets you stand out of the other crowd and makes the intended laurels on a long-term basis possible. As soon as you get lost on the path of least resistance, the search should start for a different approach. Even though this leads to larger efforts, it yields more in the end. Otherwise nothing else remains than resting in mediocrity.
- The way that the problems go
Mountain climbers know that the areas of the least resistance should be avoided, since there is the largest risk to be caught by an avalanche. The business problems also find this direct way, in order to spread at no expense. This begins with computer viruses that spread within networks from one computer to the next. It goes to the particularly harmful fight for market share that is fought through prices. Surprisingly the understanding that the cheaper offers are reduced, not necessarily equal services is missing to the customers. All pounce on this simple way of competition, without considering that the own viability is at risk. Their offers suffer one day under the bad quality and destroy the customer confidence. Certifications are worth nothing, since the customers already turned away.
- The way that passes real opportunities
The way of the slightest resistance is not necessarily the best, since outside can be found significantly more. In business the genuine opportunities are also outside of the well-trodden tracks. In the context of former conditions only a few people thought about the fact that a World Wide Web creates new possibilities. Meanwhile everybody understands. And already niche markets are emerging that promote again more physical community – meeting places, where one enjoys its coffee with a group of people; teams that co-ordinate their tasks personally in daily stand ups; meetings, where music is made again by hand. Since the daily routine leads to more and more regulations and standards, the responsible people forget to dare a view beyond the edge of the plate. Thus they miss lucrative opportunities.
- The way that often takes detours
With a river that flows in its natural bed, the way of the slightest resistance appears. It meanders itself in far and close, again and again changing loops. This shows that the nature does not follow the most direct or shortest way. In business life intuitive operational sequences are also not looking for the fastest way. On contrary, they lead often to much branched out and difficult-to-understand processes that cannot be steered out of one hand. Distributed, self-organized leadership is essentially more effective, as long as it concerns naturally grown sequences. Procedures that must be implemented in IT-programs, limit this free run of the things. The standardization is thereby a compromise that has to reconcile all interests and to overcome resistances.
Each of us will also take the way of the slightest resistance again and again. Why should you make it difficult for yourself? We are afraid of uncertainty and rarely change something that worked well so far. This is valid also for those, who always take the way of permanent change and who will therefore never come to peace.
Bottom line: The way of the slightest resistance is despite its momentum and its apparent coziness the least way to strive for. Here you find most people. Here the problems are happening. Here you have the smallest chances to set off from the pack. Here you accept detours. And nevertheless many let themselves drift and complain afterwards that they didn’t get more out of it. As soon as you feel the fact that you are on this path, a side step or a spontaneous direction change or just trying out something completely different is recommended. The flipside of the way of the slightest resistance is the unnoticed corset that prevents long-term viability.