Peter Thiel wrote an interesting book called Zero to One where he expounded on his theories on the mindset for growing a big business. This post has nothing to do with that book except for playing with the title…

This is about the notion of zero incremental cost…

There are many things that we think have zero incremental cost, but if you dig a little deeper really do.

The biggest offender in the zero incremental cost racket is electronic communication.

There may not be any extra cost to send another email, post another message, send another text, but there is certainly a cognitive cost for both the sender and the receiver. Maybe the importance and value of the message offsets the costs, but not always.

And then there are the systems costs of maintaining this extra bit of information. Again this may seem incrementally low, but there is a lot of infrastructure that goes behind the ability to distribute, track, store, recall and/or archive that bit of information.

Frequent small bits of information are easier to digest than infrequent large batches of information. The cognitive toll on individuals and organizations is different and has different implications.

The incremental costs of individual communication may seem low, but it is much higher than it looks. The costs and risks of under-communicating are not to be minimized either .

This is really a strategic decision and it is easily overlooked when organizations are looking at new tools. Organizations need to evaluate their information and communication protocols as an integral part of their operational strategy.