I’ve wanted to write about the fallacy of a silver bullet in business for some time. Defined as “a simple and seemingly magical solution to a complicated problem,” the silver bullet – as I’ve learned in my “grinding-it-out” years in business – simply doesn’t exist.
I know of what I speak: My experiences launching a beer import business cemented my thinking that there’s simply no substitute for gritty hard work -- especially for a new or young business. I’ve seen it repeatedly in my business ventures and with marketing clients of all sizes. Scale happens after the lessons are learned. It is the byproduct of well-reasoned trial, error, and pivoting toward what works, not the result of a quick fix.
Nevertheless, we often opt for the fastest pain reliever when there's pain.
So, what did I do to organize my thoughts on the mythological silver bullet? In a twist of irony, I sought a silver bullet -- ChatGPT.
You may have heard about this mystical force of science that seemingly came out of nowhere late last year, shaking the foundations of all that we know about communications. According to ZDNet, Chat GPT is “a natural language processing tool driven by AI technology that allows you to have human-like conversations and much more with the chatbot. The language model can answer questions and assist you with tasks like composing emails, essays, and code.”
But could ChatGPT help me rip through a simple topical blog about a silver bullet?
I gave the current darling of Artificial Intelligence 250 words of my thoughts on the topic and a few interesting quotes. Here’s what I got back (about a 5-minute read):
In the world of business, growth is the ultimate goal. And in the pursuit of this goal, companies often look for a quick fix, a silver bullet that can magically unlock the path to success. They look for that one person, technology, or partnership that can make all the difference and catapult them to the top of their industry. Unfortunately, this approach is not only misguided but also dangerous. It's a fallacy that has been responsible for the downfall of many companies.
The truth is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to business growth. Each business is unique, and each industry has its own set of challenges. Therefore, the idea that one person, one technology, or one partnership can solve all the problems and lead to growth is a myth. It's a distraction that can lead companies astray and waste valuable time and resources.
The old adage that one can have what one wants on only two parameters: good, fast, or cheap, rings true in this scenario. Companies seeking a silver bullet for growth are often looking for a quick, cheap solution that can get them good results. However, the painstaking work of consistent testing and learning methodologies is the real way to grow. It takes time, effort, and resources to build a successful business, and there are no shortcuts.
Successful companies understand that growth is a process that requires patience, discipline, and consistent effort. They recognize that there will be failures along the way, but these failures are not an end but a means to an end. Failure in a purposeful test and learn strategy is merely a window into another way forward. It provides valuable information that can be used to adjust the course and find a more effective way to achieve growth.
The problem with the silver bullet approach is that it creates a false sense of security. Companies become over-reliant on a particular technology, person, or partnership, and fail to invest in other areas that are critical to their success. For example, a company might focus all its efforts on developing a new product, thinking that it will be the key to growth. However, if they neglect other areas such as marketing, customer service, and sales, the new product may not reach its full potential.
Another danger of the silver bullet approach is that it can lead to complacency. Companies that believe they have found the key to success often stop looking for new opportunities and innovations. They become stagnant, and their competitors overtake them.
In contrast, the tried-and-true method of putting in the work, failing forward, and diligently iterating until scale can be achieved is the real solution. It requires a willingness to learn from mistakes and make adjustments based on data and feedback. This approach is not glamorous, but it is effective. It's the difference between a sprint and a marathon. A sprint may get you to the finish line quickly, but a marathon requires endurance, consistency, and a willingness to adapt to changing conditions.
H. L. Mencken wrote that "for every human problem, there is a solution that is quick, simple, and wrong." The same can be said of business growth. There is no quick, simple solution to growth. It requires a combination of factors, including a clear strategy, a strong team, an innovative product or service, effective marketing and sales, and a willingness to adapt to changing market conditions.
David Goggins, a former Navy SEAL and motivational speaker, regularly tells us that "the only way to achieve greatness in life is to have patience, consistency, and discipline." This message applies to business growth as well. There are no silver bullets. Success comes from hard work, persistence, and a willingness to learn and adapt.
In conclusion, the fallacy of the silver bullet or quick fix to creating business growth is a dangerous mindset that can lead to failure. There is no silver bullet.
Irony aside, are you convinced? About silver bullets, quick fixes, AI, or otherwise?
Here’s my take:
I don’t like where the provided quotes ended up in the AI-generated content. My professional journalist friends probably have several issues with how this is written. And, of course, more data would also be necessary to justify my experience-only opinion. Still, the tool did a pretty good job of laying out the argument, and it even articulated some things I typically say but did not include in my 250-word stimulus. Very cool -- if not just a little bit creepy.
In my experience, there still are no silver bullets for business problems outside of diligent Growth Gears work and the willingness to test, learn, and pivot. AI may not be the answer (yet), but I like it as a kickstart, and I’m intrigued by what more it can do.
As I continue to experiment with AI, I’ll share my experiences here. In the interim, let me know your thoughts on how to use AI to tackle marketing issues, and if you or someone you know would like to talk about how to use marketing insights, strategy, and execution to get their business growing, contact me at email@example.com.