Tag Archives: Status Quo

What the Flock is Going on Here!?!?

Lots of animals live and move in groups.  Cows, sheep, wildebeest, mackerel, geese, humans…just to name some examples.  We’ve come up with lots of names for these groupings:  herd, flock, school, gaggle, gang, company, industry trade group, union, political party.

Each of these groupings have one primary purpose:  defense.  There is safety in numbers, or so the saying goes.  Groups moving in unison appear larger to predators.  Their coordinated movements confuse and intimidate those who would otherwise do harm to the individuals in the group.

When predators attack, they pick the weakest and most vulnerable in the group to attack first.  That’s okay with the group, since protection of the group as a whole is paramount.  Any particular individual is less important than the survival of the entire group.

Predators often travel alone.  Eagles, bears, cheetahs, sharks, jaguars, Tesla…all loners.  Sure, some predators travel in groups.  Lions have their pride.  Wolves have their pack.  Orcas and dolphins have their pods.  The primary goal of a predator, whether alone or in a group, is offense.  They work in a coordinated effort to maximize return on their energy investment…capturing the most prey with the least amount of energy output.

Nothing is safe in the animal kingdom.  The food chain takes no prisoners.  The hunter often becomes the hunted.  The same is true in human enterprises.  In the (hopefully) never ending capitalist cycle of invention, construction, destruction, re-invention, and reconstruction, the roles of predator and prey can switch on a moment’s notice.

An instinctive drive for safety leads to new alliances.  Predators who would never think of joining a defensive flock are drawn in by the promise of safety from some new, common enemy.  Defense against the enemy becomes the rule of the day.  Thoughts of maximizing return on investment, or re-inventing the future, are replaced by a focus on defending the status quo of the flock.

In a uniquely human twist, the defensive flock may even take on a new mission.  The defensive flock goes on offense.  This flock actively seeks out the lone predators, the re-inventors.  They marshal all of their creative energy toward destroying predators before their new ideas wreak havoc on the flock.  Protection of the group is all that matters.  The individual is less important.

Which are you?  Predator or prey?  Loner, or flock member?  Are you a former predator, now seeking the safety of a new flock?  Are you defending the status quo, or throwing in with the crazies who are re-inventing the future?  Are you on offense, or defense?

Are you making this choice for yourself, or are you allowing the flock to make the decision for you?

On Being Right

Think back to decisions you made five years ago, two years ago, one year ago.

Knowing what you know today, would you have made the same decisions? Chances are, with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight and the passage of time, at least a few of your past decisions don’t look as good today.

Think about the decisions you’ll be making today, tomorrow, a year from now.

Do you plan to make the right decision? Of course you do. But, what will “future you” think of these decisions in two years, or five years?

What if the decision you made in the past was the exact right one, but needs to change today in the face of new facts? Will you make the new decision?

As automobile and air travel were being invented, imagine if railroad companies allowed their names (and missions) to change from railroad, to transportation. Railroad companies certainly had the capital and infrastructure advantages necessary to take a commanding lead in all forms of transportation, not just rail. Unfortunately, in the face of new information and disruptive innovation, they chose to hold onto their past “right” decisions. They chose to focus on being the best railroad companies, when they could have become the best transportation companies.

Making new decisions without the burden of always having to defend past decisions can lead to unexpected, and sometimes awe-inspiring, new opportunities.

Are you giving yourself and those around you the freedom to make new, better-informed decisions? Are you willing to be wrong in the past?

Treading Water

Which is harder, treading water for ten minutes, or swimming in a direction of your choice for ten minutes?

Have you ever tried to tread water for ten minutes?  How about five minutes?  It’s definitely easier to swim in a direction of your choice…and you get the added benefit of going somewhere.

I’ve had an opportunity to meet and work with a lot of people during my career.  Many have had twenty, even thirty-plus, years of experience in their fields.  Unfortunately, some of them have spent that time treading water in the status quo.  Turns out they don’t have twenty (or thirty) years of experience.  They really have twenty (or thirty) one-year experiences.  Their experiences haven’t taken them, or their organization anywhere.  It takes huge effort to tread water, and yet that is exactly what some choose to do in their misguided quest for job security, a feeling of control, or an overwhelming desire to avoid risk.

Leaders are usually the ones who choose to swim.  They’re the ones who know there are risks, and  understand they can’t control everything.  They realize that real career security (which is much more valuable than job security) comes from constantly building on past experience and moving themselves and their organization in new directions.

Take a look at your relationships, your career, your hobbies, and pretty much anything you deem important.  If you’re treading water, maybe it’s time to start swimming.