“Only a fool dares believe their past defines their future!” – Futurist Jim Carroll
And yet, I’ve met a lot of fools. Hubris, arrogance, imperiousness – these are the sins of failure.
Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of companies and the leaders in charge follow a path down to irrelevance. Either they have clearly understood how their world is changing and have refused to act, or they have been blind to the change and have failed to act. Either way, their fate is assured in the face of relentless change.
When I keynoted the World Government Summit in Dubai, the highlight clip the organization put together of my talk highlighted the reality of our future:
The key message underlying this? When everything changes and you don’t, your fate is doomed. You need to go forward with certain basic realities in mind:
- if you aren’t innovating fast enough, products that don’t yet exist based on ideas not yet conceived will challenge your market dominance
- if you aren’t innovating at speed, your customers will see through your products and your brand as tired and old
- if you aren’t aware of new competitors that might be emerging that might challenge you, you will likely be caught flatfooted by surprise
- if you haven’t realigned yourself with a focus on agility and speed, you’ll be moving too slow in a fast-paced world
- if you haven’t accelerated your knowledge asset capabilities, the skills that you have to take you into a new and different future will be lacking
- if you haven’t infused your organization with the spirit of new thinking you’ll be encumbered by old ideas
History is littered with the wreckage of organizations that did not step up to the plate of the speed of future trends, and who have failed to adapt to fast-paced market change. What happens to organizations like these? Why do things go wrong? There’s a long list of the reasons for failure:
- a belief in their ‘incumbency’ – they’ve been successful for so long they do not fear any threat!
- the invincibility syndrome – nothing will ever come along that might challenge their success!
- arrogance and hubris, particularly at the CEO level – they simply have everything right with their formula! (They don’t)
- a culture that does not promote shared goals, and in which each and every division is in it for themselves – promoting massive dysfunction and missed collective opportunity
- and a failure to realize and adapt to the pace of change – simply put, they are structured for slow in the era of fast!
- an inability to recognize their competitors are moving faster than they are – they don’t like to acknowledge their competitor’s success
- an inability to confront the truth of what they see out in the world around them – denial runs rampant!
- an inadequate trends radar: they simply miss the signs of what is coming next!
The list goes on. So your task today?
Recognize the essence of foolishness and guard against it!