“To counter complacency, you must exhibit insatiability.” “You need to go where the opportunity will be next, not where it is.” -Jeremy Gutsche Exploiting Chaos
There is this very interesting documentary on the rise and fall of Tower Records called All Things Must Pass which, in a very subtle way, documents the digital disruption that today’s organizations are ALL facing.
There were two very telling moments towards the end of the documentary, where the following two sentences were played across a stark screen, demonstrating the suddenness of the demise and the overall disruption of what had become an American icon…
“In 1999, Tower Records had sales of over one billion dollars”
“Five years later they filed for bankruptcy”
As David Geffen shared in the documentary, “The industry as a whole didn’t respond appropriately.”
And it wasn’t just that they didn’t respond appropriately, in many ways they didn’t see it coming. Or if they did see it coming, they didn’t want to accept the reality of what they were facing. Which was, for Tower Records…their Napster Moment.
Too often, it is our successes, not our failures, that keep us entrenched in the status quo, insulating us from the volatility of change and very often, the disruptive forces we are facing in the present and future. Shielding us from facing our own Napster Moment.
As was shared in All Things Must Pass, “Everything that you did worked, and then it just stopped.”
Which means we have to begin to think different. We have to begin to do different. And we have to be willing to scrutinize how our current successes and mental models that trap and entrench us in status quo ways of doing and being.
As Jeremy Gutsche pushes forward in his work Exploiting Chaos, you have to continually look to find the opportunity in the midst of chaos. Especially in today’s VUCA World where change is accelerating, often at an exponential clip.
As Gutsche shares…
Be willing to destroy.
Change in today’s world requires facing many more unknowns, many more new frontiers. Which means we can little afford to entrench ourselves and our organizations in our successes of the present and past. We can’t let those successes insulate us from knowing and perceiving when a pivot or shift is necessary or needed, even when that pivot provokes uncertainty and moves us out of our comfort of the known. We can’t let current and past successes impede future progress and relevance.
And determining relevance is going to be vital in today’s accelerated and constantly shifting world…
As Peter Drucker put forth, “The right questions don’t change as often as the answers do.” And we can ill afford to be providing the right answers to the wrong questions in today’s world. Or, as Jeremy Gutsche shares in Exploiting Chaos, you end up as “Smith-Corona The BEST typewriter company in the world a title they still keep today.” For which he adds, “Accomplishment blinds us to the urgency of reinvention. Don’t be seduced by complacency. When the world became chaotic, Smith-Corona did what most organizations do: they retreated to their comfort zone. Smith-Corona became a victim of rational decision-making. Don’t let complacency be the architecture of your downfall.”
Too often, success becomes a key indicator for future stasis and stagnation. Once you feel you’ve arrived, there is no demand or urgency to progress. Much of today’s innovation gets lost on a focus on polishing our past successes. We have to evolve forward, we can’t pivot if we are entrenched in the past.
If requirements (skill-sets) for success in the future have change, and the system that prepares people for those skill-sets hasn’t, we have misalignment. Misalignment for the future. Just as what we see as necessary for students and what society is saying is vital for success in a shifting world, aren’t always aligned.
In many ways, we have to tap into more exponential, “around the corner” if we are going to better prepare our people, our children, for the future.
Too often, our mental models shield us from that “different” thinking, blinding us from seeing the coming of our own organizational Napster Moments.
“Success depends on intuition, on seeing what afterwards proves true but cannot be established at the moment.” -J.Schumpter
“Success requires an organization to let go of its current playbook and rethink the way it sees the world…” -via Scaling Edges