True to The Lean Startup principles, I’m conducting a retrospective to report what I’ve learned in the first six-week cycle of this humble effort to develop something useful. Here’s Lesson #2:

I think the chefs at P.F. Chang’s could make a great lasagna, something better than anything at Olive Garden.

But they won’t make lasagna at P.F. Chang’s.

Because no one would order lasagna at P.F. Chang’s.

Because no one goes to P.F. Chang’s for Italian food.

It’s very out-of-place.

Quality isn’t enough. P.F. Chang’s could develop the greatest lasagna recipe the world has ever known. Price isn’t enough, either. P.F. Chang’s could give it away for free but few would touch it.

I should know this. There is quality (the lasagna) and then there is context (the restaurant). You have to get both right to share something effectively.  

When Sharing Becomes Selling

It’s no one’s fault really but the context feels all wrong here. On LinkedIn, that is. For over six weeks, I have shared 34 posts . Those posts direct people to my service—the place where I try to write useful information.

That redirection is the part that hurts the context. I can’t help but think every post appears as if I am “promoting” my site (look at me, Mr. Smart Guy, writing a buncha words on my own website). That’s definitely not the intent. But when I began, I didn’t really know how else to share it.  

Then there’s the content itself. Some posts I see on LinkedIn feel right. Things like news, updates, motivational stuff, and stories shared from other people. This is what I associate with Facebook (having never used it) and it’s a very sociable thing.

But I don’t think people write long-form book reviews on Facebook. I don’t think it happens on LinkedIn either. I can’t find any. It took me five attempts to figure out how to even search for actual articles; everything is geared towards people’s profiles. Even still, I couldn’t find stuff like mine anywhere.

Clearly there has been a misunderstanding.  

My intuitions told me this from the start. But I still had to start somewhere. And true to the Lean approach and Statistics 101, I wanted to test the idea and see. Test complete. The null hypothesis cannot be rejected. It was worth the effort to get the terrific lesson.

Quality and Context. You have to get both right. The State of South Dakota cannot open up a hair salon. It could be a great hair salon but it doesn’t really matter. 

I still don’t understand what LinkedIn really is, having used it extensively for six weeks, but I respect what it isn’t.

Photo of an aspen slightly out of place in Colorado by Calvin Weibel on Unsplash