The Dilution Effect

The Concept

Dilution is sometimes disabling—and sometimes enabling. It’s disabling when it spreads resources too thin or muddies the waters so much that what’s most important is no longer at our focus. Dilution is enabling when it allows us to apply just the right amount in just the right way. Or when it tempers negative effects. Or prevents adverse reactions. It’s important to understand where dilution is working for us—or against us. And then design for the best effects in our organization.


Disabling Aspects

Relevancy—the world changes, but we do not. What we offer makes less and less sense over time—our impact is diluted.


Culture Fade—culture diffuses with the addition of more and more disparate elements.


Erosion of the Singularity—we and others forget what we are known for, and what matters most gets lost in the mix.


Missing the Threshold—we fall short of the minimum time, attention, and effort to make something happen.


Lost in the Cacophony—clear messages from leadership get drowned out in a sea of voices, interpretations, and assumptions.


Loss of Presence—the ever-growing demands on our time increasingly pull us out of the present moment, so we never fully show up for any one thing.


Growth for Growth’s Sake—we sacrifice excellence for growth by indiscriminately adding more and more things.


Pass it on Effect—the essence of the message erodes as it is passed on from one person to another—and another—and another.


Dissolution of the Guild—we no longer rally around and perfect a single thing over time.


Enabling Aspects

Broad Impact—dilute in order to spread sweepingly without losing the essential nature of the more concentrated form.


Lessen Adverse Reaction—use a less condensed form to reduce kickback and unhelpful reflexive response.


Acclimation—give one thing—allow people to acclimate and embrace—before moving on to the next thing.


Constancy—create greater impact by applying small amounts over time instead of everything all at once.


New Elements—introduce new things—resonant and dissonant—to enrich the mix.


Tempering the Unpleasant—lessen the burden of tough things by spreading them out.


Broad Relevancy—increase the chances that something you offer is just the right thing by offering a large range of things.


Efficiency—use the minimum amount required to get the desired effect or outcome.


Good Failure—try a lot of things, in a lot of ways, to increase the chances something works especially well.