Science + Alchemy = Predictable Magic


One thing that’s really counterintuitive and just difficult to wrap your head around is the science/magic dichotomy in business.

A business who solely relies on science has its funnel nailed and fully optimized.

Every decision is perfectly logical.

Everything is A/B tested.

It functions like a well-oiled revenue machine.

Put $1 in get $2.37 out.

It knows the LTV, CAC, churn, and MOM growth rate.

Forecasting is near perfect.

But the problem with that is that:

  1. It invites copycats. If your system is that well-oiled. It’s not that hard to reverse engineer.

  2. But more importantly, you’ll never test things that don’t fit in your funnel. So while the machine works (and incremental innovation).. all disruptive innovation will come from others and you’ll constantly play catch up.

It makes you perfectly well-oiled. 

But also predictable, boring and bland.

On the other end of the spectrum is magic.

Where you do weird things that seemingly don’t make sense but end up turning customers into raving fans.

(I wrote about turning a traditional funnel upside down in Which Side Is Up?)

This is one of my favorite examples:

A flight attendant turning a boring safety speech into an enjoyable, remarkable and memorable experience.

This is alchemy. Turning worthless metal into gold.

The passengers were clapping, laughing and so happy from something so simple. (At a near $0 cost!)

These things aren’t logical, they talk to our system 1 thinking. Daniel Kahneman talked about in Thinking Fast and Slow.

That part of the brain that makes decisions automatically. What we call our gut/intuition.

However, too much magic and you’ll find yourself unable to pay the bills.

So it’s important to find that mixture.

Today’s TLDR sounds like an ancient zen-like aphorism:

The best predictable and sustainable revenue engine is built with unpredictability and unsustainability.

That’s how you’ll turn science and alchemy into predictable magic.

RJ Youngling