Five Monkeys

In his podcast, Akimbo [], Seth Godin teaches us how to adopt a posture of possibility, change the culture, and choose to make a difference. Here are my takeaways from the episode.

We want to think that culture, the relationships between and among us, is constantly evolving and changing. Using Netflix and several examples, Seth explained why culture sometimes could be quite sticky and much subtler than we would like to admit.

Culture is the driving force behind many decisions we make. We often get hung up on how we do things around here because of culture. For example, Blockbuster could have competed with Netflix, but they chose a route that eventually rendered them irrelevant. Blockbuster’s made a lot of money from charging late fees, but they ignored the disruption from Netflix. People at Blockbuster could have matched their course with Netflix but chose not to because no one wanted to go against the culture where the late fees were a major component.

To understand what we can do and not get disrupted or left behind, Seth believes we should ask ourselves these four questions.

The first question is “Who do we serve?” Every organization has its audience base that helped to build the company in the first place. When we have a relationship with a group of people, those are the people we serve.

The second question is “What do they need?” When the people we serve change their habits or preferences, we should have an open mind to see where our audience might want to go and help them get there. If necessary, we need to change ourselves if the people we seek to serve want to be served differently.

The third question is “What do we own?” We should examine what assets we already have that can support serving our audience. It is easy to fall into the trap of defending the assets that can no longer support the new mission. It is essential to have an open mind and not to view the new assets we need to build as a threat to the organization.

The last question is “What do we know?” The most useful thing we can own is not hard assets, but knowledge. If we realized that the platform has shifted, we might need to walk away from what we used to believe and make a plan to do something else.

By examining these four questions with honesty, we can better equip ourselves and not letting the cultural norm stop us from seeing the new directions or trying the new approaches. As things change or shift, we will keep confronting the need to move from the current territory to a new territory, or the current level to a new level.

With shifts and changes, there are going to be new territories or rewards to be captured. Someone is going to figure it out how to capture those new prizes, and it might as well be us if we are willing.