Saturday, December 22, 2001

Survival Is Not Enough :::

Survival Is Not Enough ::: Great article about the importance of change in uncertain times. Seth Godin points out that the state of the economy dictates the type of organization that is required: in a stable economy, the corporation is a machine. Companies are “finely tuned and easy to copy, scale, and own.” The goal with a machine is to make it cheaper and more reliable. (I would say you want the machine to be predictable – which may be only slightly different than reliable. But that’s another discussion.)

It’s uncertain times – which we are most certainly in right now – that demand evolution. Godin argues that organizations evolve at the individual level – that evolution is all about two entities competing and the stronger entity winning. By definition, the stronger individuals (employees) are what drive a larger, corporate evolution. (Read the article. It’s worth it just for the line “Penguins don’t have meetings about evolution” alone.)

Fair enough. But to what extent is evolution possible in a culture that doesn’t encourage evolution? Godin says that it’s not up to the corporation – in fact, he thinks that most successful companies avoid evolving – that evolution happens regardless of the culture. It’s just that successful companies embrace it.

The challenge here is that the evolution will often not benefit those who are leading the corporation. Those leaders arrived where they are by learning the ins and outs of their environment – and evolution puts them in unfamiliar surroundings. So if we accept Godin’s premise, then we must also accept that the most successful leaders are those who encourage evolution, willingly subjecting themselves to circumstances with which they’re not familiar… [From Fast Company]

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