By Brian Roberts
Article 1 in Series, Restoring Freedom: An Entrepreneur’s Perspective
Imagine this… You and I are the founders of a start-up company. Our product is compelling. Our market is broad. We are underfunded, unorganized and unfocused. The press clearly doesn’t care about our efforts. Yet, we think we are going to take on the world. We are going to take on the largest, most powerful and monopolistic competitor possible. But we are not intimidated because the personal rewards of success are unimaginable and unlike our competitor’s offering our product will change the world for the better.
So we are driven, like an innovative capitalist… to sell individual freedom to a world that thinks it prefers servitude.
At this time in history, freedom is once again a revolutionary product. And if we are going to take on our massive federal government and replace the socialism it is offering with true individual freedom, then we had better have a strategic plan that is designed to leverage our strengths to the maximum. We cannot afford to waste any resource and our execution must be almost flawless. Sounds impossible? The odds are truly stacked against us, yes, but the good news in our analogy is that start-up companies take on large companies all the time… and more often than you would expect, they win.
For any revolutionary product (remember freedom is our product), market acceptance goes through a dynamic that involves different types of people, each with different objectives. Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm defined a key strategy for taking a technology product to market with limited resources. Like technology, political messages have an adoption lifecycle. And like technology, political messages experience a chasm where after quick and encouraging gains the movement seems to falter. This is a common dynamic of markets and has a solution, but the solution is not intuitive. In order to understand the solution and how the tenth amendment offers the key to success, we need to have a clear understanding of a major barrier, known as the chasm.
The following graph shows the adoption lifecycle, the dangerous chasm and where it falls. Many movements die at the chasm. Why? The simple answer is that the early message that worked so well to quickly gain support from one segment of the population, offered very little to gain support from other segments, but there is much more to it than that.
In our case, think of the curve as a representation of the American population since that is our target market. We need to consider the desires and needs of the various segments with regards to freedom.
The innovators appreciate things for their own sake; many support the founding fathers and their ideas regarding America and freedom because believe they are right and they respect the ideals. They represent a small but very dedicated segment of our market.
The next group is the early adopters; these are visionary individuals who have the unique ability to match a solution, such as tenth amendment protections, to an opportunity such as regaining freedom. This represents a larger segment of the population, but not nearly enough to make significant political gain. Many of you reading this article are either innovators or early adopters.
This brings us to the early majority. This is the group that we must focus on and any strategy for re-gaining freedom must ultimately be something compelling to this group. You will not find the early majority at tea parties, commenting on blogs or generally debating politics, but many are paying attention. For the most part they currently believe that our country’s current situation is just politics as usual and that it will all get worked out in the end. “America has seen worse” is a common phrase. They are often party-line voters. In general, this group is risk averse and do not share the visionary’s excitement for revolutionary change. But true individual freedom at this point in American history is truly revolutionary change, so if we are going to cross the chasm to freedom then we must commit our resources to reaching the early majority. If we fail in this monumental task then our movement will fall short.
We can ignore the late majority and the laggards. This part of the curve represents a population that simply does not understand individual freedom.
This is where it becomes less intuitive. How can we effectively reach the early majority with our limited resources? You might think that the “Big Tent” strategy would develop the biggest following. It seems logical, if we can just sell our wonderful product of freedom to the most people then we will surely generate a massive unstoppable movement. But hold on… the “big tent” strategy always results in failure. It fails for start-up companies because the massive resources are not available. Even large companies with unlimited resources will fail when the target is not defined, the product is not focused and the message is confused. As proven by recent history, this is actually a fatal strategic mistake for political movements as well. In politics, the result is ceaseless internal debates that miss the big picture (think controversial social issues), a message defined by the press (think tea parties), and virtually zero political excitement (think McCain). It is clear that the current limitation of today’s freedom movement is this lack of strategic focus.
To cross the chasm, we need to implement a focused strategy and we need to do this now. We already have the best product ever known to mankind, individual freedom. But the best product is never a guarantee of success. As discussed, the strategy must be able to present a compelling message that will resonate with the early majority. But equally important is the strategy’s ability to build a powerful political base to work from. So what serves as the best political springboard? State Governments? The Republican Party? The growing Tea Party Movement? A third party? All of the above?
A movement with a foundation based on the tenth amendment has the best chance of returning the power consolidated in Washington to “We the People”. This strategy might seem to fall right into the hands of current state governments but is it really that simple? I don’t think so. In the next articles of this series we will discuss why the tenth amendment is the perfect foundation, who the allies might be, how we can attract the early majority and what tools we will need to make a real difference.
Brian Roberts is the President and a founder of an innovative software company in Texas. He has joined the tenth amendment movement as the meetup organizer of Texas Tenth Amendment Center. Follow Brian on Twitter, bcroberts_99.