Wanna beat the machines? Be inefficient.


On the off chance that a semi-sentient algorithmic news bot hasn’t broken the news to you yet, here’s the deal: we’re in an AI revolution. Robots now handle most menial business tasks and can power through complex processes with blazing efficiency.

It’s good for the most part. But businesses are now facing a new challenge: remaining human.

When businesses don’t stay human, they lose a valuable resource: Inefficiency.

Human inefficiency is powerful stuff. Without it, we wouldn’t have art, which demands iteration and observation. We wouldn’t have relationships, which are forged through empathy, trust, and emotions harvested over time. And we wouldn’t have innovation. Because to innovate, we have to explore, take risks, and get messy.

Robots suck at messy. And yet they’ll mess up everything if you give them total control. They could turn you and your business into something that’s flawlessly average. That’s no better than being invisible.

If, instead, you want your business to stand out, the answer is simple: be human. Embrace the folly of inefficiency and take pride in it! Here’s how.

1) Write poetry, not copy

It’s easy to fall back on chewed marketing copy and buzzwords. It might even be more efficient. But it lacks beauty and gets in the way of your unique voice. When you talk from your human heart, you speak poetry.

2) Design weird

Ditch the bootstrap themes and corny color palettes. Leave the hero image behind. Instead, do something strange. Pick a neglected font and make it work. Use bold, enticing colors. Use pink! Take my word for it — a robot would never design a pink website.

3) Be transparent

People want to know who’s behind the product they’re using and how it came to be. They’re even curious about the numbers and metrics behind your business. Consider sharing these with them.

4) Break protocol

Robots can’t deviate from the script. You can. Why? Because you feel like it. And you love your customers. At Mad Mimi, support would sometimes design entire emails for their customers. At Yala, we try to help people create content for their social media channels.

5) Be an artisan

Artisans revel in inefficiency. The extra flourish, the added feature, the pinch of spice. This inefficiency is a way to one-up the machines. Constructing a Stradivarius violin is less efficient than machining one. But the quality is incomparable.

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Machines have their place. But they’re tools, not role models. Let AI do its job. Put your energy into doing things that only humans can do. Chances are you’ll get to where you want to go a whole lot quicker.

That’s the strange thing about human inefficiency. In the end, nothing could be more efficient.