Impact = Footprint ?

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When we think of companies, institutions, even individuals who have/had a great impact on the world, we usually think about them using the following formula: impact = footprint.

The more money a company makes, the more people it must employ.
The more people an NGO can reach, the more donations it must receive.
The more awards an artist has received, the more beautiful art the can make.

While this formula certainly is true in quite a few cases, I do think that we take it for granted too often. In fact, I think that this belief often makes certain innovations die even before they had a chance to perform.

In the world of startups and independent creators, we're starting to see the opening up of the "entry point" in various industries. It's easier to start a business, it's easier to sell music. Many organizational issues are also made simpler by the rise of automatic software.

I think about this a lot in the personal aspect, too. Whenever I look at the tasks I have to do, I often prioritize them on the basis of impact vs footprint/cost. So, if I have the two following tasks on my list:

  1. Write a new blog post on my "commercial" site (1 hr)
  2. Rewrite some backend related to publishing and analytics on the site (4 hrs)

I am going to estimate the impact and the time & energy required to complete them. In this example, clearly the first task might have a stronger impact. At least in the foreseeable future. Both of them are important, but the second one might produce more impact with a smaller footprint.

All in all, this comes down to the idea of minimizng the unnecessary. If you can do something well, why don't do it with less?


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