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« Can't top this | Main | Teaching the market a lesson »

Hammer time

So, if it's true that to a person with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail, the really useful question is, "what sort of hammer do you have?"

At big TV networks, they have a TV hammer. At a surgeon's office, they have the scalpel hammer. A drug counselor has the talk hammer, while a judge probably has the jail hammer.

Maybe it's time for a new hammer...

One study found that when confronted with a patient with back pain, surgeons prescribed surgery, physical therapists thought that therapy was indicated and yes, acupuncturists were sure needles were the answer. Across the entire universe of patients, the single largest indicator of treatment wasn't symptoms or patient background, it was the background of the doctor.

When the market changes, you may be seeing all the new opportunities and problems the wrong way because of the solutions you're used to. The reason so many organizations have trouble using social media is that they are using precisely the wrong hammer. And odds are, they will continue to do so until their organization fails. PR firms try to use the new tools to send press releases, because, you guessed it, that's their hammer.

It's not just about new vs. old. Inveterate community-focused social media mavens often bring that particular hammer to other venues. So they crowdsource keynote speeches or restaurants or board meetings and can't figure out why they don't have the impact others do.

The best way to find the right tool for the job is to learn to be good at switching hammers.

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