Sunday, April 23, 2006

If it ain't broke, break it!

More companies go out of business by not changing than by changing. So often the buggy whip maker keeps making better and better buggy whips while people stop using horses. While this may be obvious, less obvious ones happen every day. The magazine which keeps making graphic redesigns, but does not understand how to deal with a digital age, the onlline service (think Prodigy, CompuServe, Delphi) which stays still as the world moves on. Car companies, airlines, food companies, each looks at the situation in a frozen snapshot of time. Humans seem to have greater difficulty seeing change over a large amount of time than they used to. A few hundred years ago, when the world moved slower, people thought about the long view. This seems to be more difficult. Whether it is global warming, shifts in economic power, culture change, or technology, we seem to have less perspective than before.

To have the long view, you need a long perspective, great mental flexibility, and the ability to sit and think without preconceptions. Multi-tasking is a handicap, as are interruptions. Then assume that there is a radically different way to do everything, and look for it. It you do not make revolutionary changes, then you will eventually become obsolete. Many years ago this may have taken years, now it takes a lot less.

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