The boat is sinking…so what?

Imagine, you’r on a boat. Boat’s sinking. 50 people on the boat, talented and gifted representatives of their human race. And all are talking to each other and saying: „It seems, the boat is sinking.“ Some say, they also see it. Others reply, the’ve seen it since long. Others still deny the obvious. Others say: „they should’ve fixed it long ago, I always warned them“ or: „Can’t deal with this problem, I’m too busy rowing“ or: I’m done fixing the problem at my side of the boat. It’s now the problem of the others.

Still the boat is sinking.

So the captain on the boat calls for a change.

A reinvention.

He doesn’t ask for fixes. No, for reinvention.

Cool idea, since fixing the boat might not help, because the ecosystem is changing rapidly and a digital storm is coming up, that we have seen since long, but we are still not prepared to see the chances instead of the threat.

Maybe he should’ve considered to first analyze the root causes of the problem, that so many people are sitting on a sinking boat, realizing, blind-spotting, foreseeing the problem and no one goes into lead to solve the life-threatening problem.

Ok. the problem might be manifolded.

The Chinese say, if you want somebody something bad, wish him 7 years of success.

So now, imagine 20yrs of success and the success patterns of yesterday’s growing markets that are now hardcoded so deeply in our DNA and culture, that we don’t understand, how much we have to rethink to be still successful tomorrow.

Reinventing? Not in times of success (works only, if you are a real player like Elon Musk!?)

Reinventing in crisis?

At least changing the odds.

On the left hand side, more burned out employees, tired and disillusioned from task-forces all over and short-term fixes and less financial strength as in the Golden Years.

On the right hand side some sense of urgency and emergency, that going on like ever won’t solve the problem and a change is inevitable. Only hard to figure out, who are the ones who have to change and what has that to do with me sitting in my silo, struggling with work anyway?

And while discussing, neglecting, diminishing or delegating the problem, the question grows louder: What happens, if the boat really is sinking and all our lives and those of the loved ones will either end or change rapidly?

So ok, Board Members ordered to further analyze the problem:
Negatives:
People have learned, to optimize in silos, mitigate risks and are more in zero failure mode, than in innovation and reinventing themselves.
No common vision and strategy, how to solve the problem.
Wrong focus.
Lost in complexity.
Lack of trust in each other and cooperation.
Lots of silo thinking and politics.
Too complex.
Too bureaucratic.
Too slow.
Insufficient leadership.
Lack of competencies in digitalisation.
Lack in processes and methods for future fit.
Home made problems all over.

Positives:
Heritage.
Tradition.
Brand reputation.
Lots of technical expertise.

When the ghost of innovation has left the building, a smart Professor once told me, another less welcome ghost will take the empty place.

No hope?

Nope.

The Boat will sink.

It really will, if we don’t wake up and act.

Too big to fail is maybe not true anymore, as history of Nokia or Agfa have shown.

Too big, therefore failed is maybe much more realistic in these days, ok, as it was in ancient days, seen at the rise and fall of the Rome’s Empire…

So how to reinvent a brand, that was noble and successful in years, known for being a pioneer, first to market with lots of innovations, with a great reputation and highly desirable products?

That pioneer blood still runs in the our veins and some are still not dumb enough of money, success and the golden years behind us and can still feel it, but I assume, far less than 15 years ago would fight for their company with all their passion.

And easy to understand. those who made their career to the top level are satisfied, with what they have earned in years. The others have learned that a individual has little chance to change the system and thinking out of the box isn’t really the kick-starter for careers.

You’re not getting paid for reinventing something. You better sit there in the sinking boat and do your job a bit more efficient as before, while all the others do the same and watch the boat sink.

Maybe we should set a sign and throw some of the leaders out of the boat, because obviously they’re not reacting on, what happens on the boat, they are realizing the problem, but cannot find a solution of interacting and working out a solution on the overall perspective, instead of hoping, everybody solves the problem somehow on a local base.

But more than 7 people on the table lets the discussion time increase dramatically. A lot of effort, to get 7 different structured and diverse interested people into a common travel plan for 7 days together.

Neither to get an organisational, technical, functional, economical, ecological highly complex system of 10.000s of people into a common vision, mission, tactics and working plan.

Or to work with common processes that still don’t exist or with methods, we dream of, but still need years to develop, what in consumers world is life today.

Nobody of us would accept the IT-tools at home as he has to handle with at work.
Crazy and not exactly the climate, where the cool kids go to, if they decide to work for some cool, sustainable and visionary company or starting their own start up or even better start a gamer’s career and earn a fortune as a professional, making your passion your business.

I guess that also other companies are facing similar problems to readjust their path into a digital future, where markets and customer expectations are changing within months instead of decades.

So to judge, if the boat will sink at the end or it is reinvented, there are a lot of questions still to answer:

  • How are we developing a common, attractive and sustainable vision?
  • How do we derive a flexible organization and a easy scaling product architecture for faster and more efficient product development for the customer needs of tomorrow?
  • How to we organize ourselves to do our homework and fix the lack of processes, methods and tool chain for the rising complexity?
  • How to grow the missing competencies and innovators fast enough?
  • Can we overcome the old hierarchical system and get faster and more efficient through crowd intelligence and flexible network structures instead of matrix organisations?
  • Will we be able to build up a platform, where people can interact and cooperate in real-time as in multi-player online games and how do we emotionalize people to share their knowledge, practices and ideas?
  • How can we change the culture back to promote pioneers, change agents and innovators, that see the future chances and market opportunities of tomorrow?
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Anybody out there who has the philosopher’s stone on that or any helpful comment?