"We'll overcome the things they do." - Joy Denalane, Change (feat. Lupe Fiasco)
"I don't have any personal challenges about throwing away the past. If you're not changing, you're giving others a chance to catch up." - Pete Cashmore
Fast Company's This Is Generation Flux: Meet The Pioneers Of The New (And Chaotic) Frontier Of Business, is highly quotable (and I'll quote quite a bit in this week's wake up call) but I encourage you to read the whole thing. Particularly if you work with me. I talk a lot about pushing forward and embracing coming change (even when we don't know exactly what those changes are) and Robert Safian does a great job at explaining why.
Being part of a big company with a long history, we go through this cycle a lot -- there's a big idea to change the business; we spend 18 months implementing that change (often not going far enough or making trade-offs for those seeking to protect the status quo) and then as soon as we launch, we look up and see we're too late. Again. And so we start the cycle anew.
"[O]ur traditional teams are too slow. We're not innovating fast enough. We need to systematize change." - Beth Comstock
Over the last few months, my team has been pushing. We want to use our latest tools. We want to see what works and what doesn't. We want to adapt and learn. This leads to breaking some eggs. Change doesn't come without being faced with resistance. But just like at the gym, you grit your teeth and keep pushing. The alternative, in today's business world, is madness.
The entire world of business is now in a constant state of agile development. New releases are constant; tweaks, upgrades, and course corrections take place on the fly. There is no status quo; there is only a process of change.
So, I implore you to not stick with what you know. Learn something new. Do something new. Be okay with the risks involved. Be okay with a little failure and tough conversations and skepticism coming your way. But, and this is important, be good at what you're doing. Be great, actually. Innovation and change are key to everything that we do but do it well. Just because you say you're agile and work in Agile processes doesn't, by it's nature, mean you're creating great products. I've seen a lot of stuff that wasn't made better just because just because we iterated.
Nostalgia is a natural human emotion, a survival mechanism that pushes people to avoid risk by applying what we've learned and relying on what's worked before. It's also about as useful as an appendix right now. When times seem uncertain, we instinctively become more conservative; we look to the past, to times that seem simpler, and we have the urge to re-create them. This impulse is as true for businesses as for people. But when the past has been blown away by new technology, by the ubiquitous and always-on global hypernetwork, beloved past practices may well be useless.
Unlike Pete Cashmore, I do have a healthy respect for the past. I just recognize that the past isn't the future. Hell, today isn't tomorrow. Just because something sort of works now and you know how to do it with your eyes closed doesn't mean it will work the next day. What it really means is blood is in the water and the sharks are already gnawing on your limbs. So, recognize what the core value of what you're doing is and then...change. Not who you are and what you're all about but how you do it. Be comfortable with ambiguity.
Embrace the flux.
My sister blogged the other day, "Step forward. Ground will appear."
Soundtrack to this post
- On Change - Russell Simmons
- Change - Joy Denalane
- Changes (J.Period Remix) - J.Period & Nneka
- Waiting on the World to Change 2008 - Joe Budden, Twista, and John Legend
- Nothing Can Change This Love - Sam Cooke
- Can I Change My Mind - Alton Ellis
- We Are Here To Change The World - Michael Jackson
- A Change Is Gonna Come - Sam Cooke
- Something's Changed - Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
- Changes - Van She
- Things Done Changed - Big Noyd
- This Game Has Changed - Daft Punk