Seth Godin on Survival Is Not Enough, Part 14

In his book, Survival Is Not Enough: Why Smart Companies Abandon Worry and Embrace Change, Seth Godin discusses how innovative organizations and individuals can apply prudent strategies in adapting and positioning themselves for the constant changes.

These are some of my favorite concepts and takeaways from reading the book.

The Important Questions (even more questions)

In this chapter, Seth discusses some of the crucial questions we should be asking ourselves as we set out to implement the concepts of evolving and zooming. He offers the following observations and recommendations for us to think about:

What are we measuring?

Whatever gets measured is what will get done. A fast feedback loop cannot work unless we are measuring something we can change. Being specific about our measurement is a crucial first step in evolving.

Have we institutionalized the process of sharing what we learn?

Learning that does not get passed on does not do us any good. For example, if our organization invests in farming and hunting, the effort is wasted unless we keep track and teach each other what is being learned.

What do we need to do to become the first choice?

Can we create a winning strategy in which our organization wins even if our employees are not the best? Can we formulate a winning plan even if our personal mDNA is not the best personally?

Are we investing in techniques that encourage fast memetic evolution?

  • Invest in exploring to find the memes most likely to give us success.
    • Invest resources taking care of the people who carry the best set of memes.
    • Create lots of memes and drop the ones that do not work.
    • Recognize that monogamy is ineffective.
    • Use fast feedback loops.
    • Keep overhead small by investing as little as possible in creating new memes.
    • Do not spend a lot of resources supporting the memes that do not make our organization more fit.
    • Swap memes with others.
    • Depend on recombination more than mutation.
    • Invest in the memes that are worth spreading.

Seth Godin on Survival Is Not Enough, Part 13

In his book, Survival Is Not Enough: Why Smart Companies Abandon Worry and Embrace Change, Seth Godin discusses how innovative organizations and individuals can apply prudent strategies in adapting and positioning themselves for the constant changes.

These are some of my favorite concepts and takeaways from reading the book.

The Important Questions (more questions)

In this chapter, Seth discusses some of the crucial questions we should be asking ourselves as we set out to implement the concepts of evolving and zooming. He offers the following observations and recommendations for us to think about:

“If an omniscient wizard walked into your offices and described the future and told you what to do to prepare for it, would your company be able to change in response to his vision?”

Organizations do not fail to change because of a lack of proof about the future. They do not change because they are stuck or they are afraid.

Are we building all our systems around testing and ignorance? How can we dramatically lower the cost of launching a test?

It is easy to invent the perfect system and insist that the market responds to our wisdom. However, creating a strategy around the test, change, and evolution is more realistic and lets our system respond to the market.

“If you could acquire another company’s mDNA, whose would you choose? Why don’t you do that?”

If you can’t, hire away a few of their employees who really “get it” and give them the resources they need to spread their mDNA through our organization. Let them hunt without the overwhelming day-to-day operational responsibilities.

“Is this project going to benefit from the learning it creates?”

If not, perhaps we should rethink why we have this project, to begin with?

“How much time does senior management spend with unhappy customers?”

The farmer does not see a disgruntled customer the way a serf does. Instead, a farmer wants to spend as much time as possible with disappointed customers. They realize that unhappy customers are a vast source of data on improving the system.

Seth Godin on Survival Is Not Enough, Part 12

In his book, Survival Is Not Enough: Why Smart Companies Abandon Worry and Embrace Change, Seth Godin discusses how innovative organizations and individuals can apply prudent strategies in adapting and positioning themselves for the constant changes.

These are some of my favorite concepts and takeaways from reading the book.

The Important Questions

In this chapter, Seth discusses some of the crucial questions we should be asking ourselves as we set out to implement the concepts of evolving and zooming. He offers the following observations and recommendations for us to think about:

Why?”

Repeatedly asking this simple question and getting to the truth is the fastest way to understand an organization’s winning strategy. However, if that truth is no longer valid, it is time to reconsider our winning strategy.

“What’s your company’s winning strategy?”

Do we know what we are busy defending? Describing our strategy and then exposing its weaknesses will enable us to change the parts without worrying about anything irrelevant.

Are we building the five elements of an evolving organization?

  • They work to increase its “zoomwidth” daily.
    • They allow their employees to build quick and cheap prototypes.
    • They understand their winning strategy, and they consistently farm and hunt for it.
    • They quickly communicate learning across the organization to adopt the winning memes and discard the bad ones.
    • They practice aggressive sexual selection strategies by firing bullies with the same zeal they hire new employees.

Are we (personally) a serf, a farmer, a hunter, or a wizard? What about the people we work with every day?

Do we know what our personal mDNA is? Are we working on suitable activities to develop it, and do we know where we want to go? Are we working with the right sort of people so we can complement each other and help each other succeed?

Seth Godin on Survival Is Not Enough, Part 11

In his book, Survival Is Not Enough: Why Smart Companies Abandon Worry and Embrace Change, Seth Godin discusses how innovative organizations and individuals can apply prudent strategies in adapting and positioning themselves for the constant changes.

These are some of my favorite concepts and takeaways from reading the book.

Chapter 10, Tactics for Accelerating Evolution

In this chapter, Seth discusses the tactics we can use to help our organization and people zoom and evolve. He offers the following observations and recommendations for us to think about:

  • A business that is not facing a life-or-death crisis does not need to slow down. Instead, it needs to hurry differently. We need to hurry to test our next winning strategy and hurry to evolve.
  • Change is not a spigot to be turned on in an emergency and then turned off when the crisis subsided. Instead, change is a constant process we need to leverage for not standing still and beating the competition.
  • Most organizations are not in the business of making stuff. Stuff is not where the successful winning strategy is built these days. We now produce more decisions instead of widgets. By embracing changes and constantly evolving, we can learn to make better decisions more often.
  • One technique for embracing change is to put an expiration date on a strategy or policy. Unfortunately, even fresh milk can expire and becomes spoiled. So why not put a mental note in place to reexamine a situation and have an alternative strategy in place before the current plan expires due to factors beyond our control?
  • There are four ways to keep an evolving organization zooming:
    • Keep the projects (or experiments) fast and cheap.
    • Hold people accountable through a quick and direct feedback loop.
    • We need leaders who can make intelligent decisions.
    • Owners make better decisions. Let people have a stake in what they do.

In summary:

“Intelligent leadership is the critical distinction between a company that zooms to success and one that just fades away.”

Seth Godin on Survival Is Not Enough, Part 10

In his book, Survival Is Not Enough: Why Smart Companies Abandon Worry and Embrace Change, Seth Godin discusses how innovative organizations and individuals can apply prudent strategies in adapting and positioning themselves for the constant changes. [https://smile.amazon.com/Survival-Not-Enough-Companies-Abandon-ebook/dp/B002XQAB08/]

These are some of my favorite concepts and takeaways from reading the book.

Chapter 10, Tactics for Accelerating Evolution

In this chapter, Seth discusses the tactics we can use to help our organization and people zoom and evolve. He offers the following observations and recommendations for us to think about:

  • Adding a charrette element to our projects can be productive. The power of the charrette is that when there is a hard stop on a project, people figure out how to prioritize their objections. In the meantime, we are still managing the process, but we need to have established an environment in which people can create without fear.
  • We need to start introducing new ideas regularly. This move can dramatically increase the pace and impact of memetic change within our organizations by creating artificial markers. Creating these opportunities and leveraging them is a positive step toward pushing the organization to zoom.
  • One approach for consistently coming up with new ideas is to have alternate teams that work on the project. The two groups can take advantage of the other team’s gems while learning from the other team’s mistakes. In addition, by alternating the teams, the internal competition and overlapping development cycles could accelerate the design and feedback process on all projects.
  • We should embrace the fact that better often beats perfect. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as the perfect solution in a competitive marketplace. By the time we develop perfect, our competition will probably have changed the landscape so much that our product will not even be good anymore.
  • When we embrace good instead of perfect, we open ourselves up to receiving feedback. The feedback can help us evolve our products and make them good enough where perfect might not matter.

In summary:

“Once a company understands the need to zoom, it can start to build tools that increase its ability to adapt to a changing environment.”

Seth Godin on Survival Is Not Enough, Part 9

In his book, Survival Is Not Enough: Why Smart Companies Abandon Worry and Embrace Change, Seth Godin discusses how innovative organizations and individuals can apply prudent strategies in adapting and positioning themselves for the constant changes.

These are some of my favorite concepts and takeaways from reading the book.

Chapter 9, Why It Works Now: Fast Feedback and Cheap Projects

In this chapter, Seth discusses how we can leverage a low-cost, rapid product development approach to zoom and evolve. He offers the following observations and recommendations for us to think about:

  • Most experiments will receive objections from people. We can take the obligating question approach to determine whether the objections are accurate. “If we are able to deliver x, y, and z at the price you’ve discussed, are you prepared to go ahead and buy our product today?” The conclusion leads us to this analogy, “Managing your product line based on the objections of people who aren’t yet your customers is a dangerous policy.”
  • Fast feedback loops are the tactic that will enable the zooming organization. Technology makes quick feedback loops possible by turning data into information and giving us early warnings of successes (or failures).
  • When we experiment, we gain insights into how something is used. Those types of understanding can drive our company to success. Suddenly, the cost of knowing is dwarfed by the cost of not knowing.
  • Prototyping is the best method for organizations to conduct experiments. Almost no product or service is made by a company that cannot be made into a prototype before building the factory or hiring the people.
  • While experiments generate a great deal of data, we need to be mindful that data is not information. Unless there is a bias toward fast feedback loops, the data is worthless. But when we start testing and trying to understand the data generated by the tests, we can learn to extract actual knowledge from the data.
  • While feedback loops are critical for zooming, the timeliness of the feedback review is just as important. Another pitfall is where people in the organizations avoid the source of feedback because they view it as criticism and unwelcome. Hotwash is one example of a feedback loop that forces the organization to capture feedback adequately and ensures that the loops do not break.

In summary:

“Technology enables zooming and evolution because it allows us to create fast and inexpensive projects, and lets us know right away if they’re working.”

Seth Godin on Survival Is Not Enough, Part 8

In his book, Survival Is Not Enough: Why Smart Companies Abandon Worry and Embrace Change, Seth Godin discusses how innovative organizations and individuals can apply prudent strategies in adapting and positioning themselves for the constant changes.

These are some of my favorite concepts and takeaways from reading the book.

Chapter 8, The Basic Building Block is People

In this chapter, Seth discusses how individuals can zoom within an organization or find one that would allow them to zoom. He offers the following observations and recommendations for us to think about:

  • As an employee, every one of our jobs is just a stopover on a lifelong journey of personal evolution. When we move from one organization to another, we take the learning from one job to the next. Unfortunately, depending on the organization, most of the learning we bring with us will be useless at best, dangerous at worst.
  • To build a zooming organization, we need to deprogram ourselves from time to time. This is because a zooming organization has a fundamentally different set of memes about how it conducts business. While it is hard to give up the winning strategy we are comfortable with, adopting the continual change that comes with zooming can help us evolve more quickly and with a greater chance of succeeding.
  • For an individual who decides to zoom, it is up to the employee to find a great boss and figure out how to use the company the best possible way. The critical element is to adopt increasingly more powerful winning strategies to advance our careers.
  • When the great people leave to join companies that let them zoom, runaway sets in. Those organizations can zoom ever faster, making them more fun, more stable, and more profitable over time. But this process cannot happen until individual employees choose and develop their zooming ability along with the organization.
  • We may have decided to zoom, but how would we transform an organization filled with non-zoomers? How can we get everyone in the organization aligned, focused on the same tactics, and willing to take risks to find success? The answer to both questions may be surprising. Don’t.
  • Do not try to force the reactionaries to change. Do not spend hours cajoling the “serfs” to give up their bondage and become farmers, hunters, and wizards. Instead, we should teach them how to think about the issue and understand the implications. Forcing people to change rarely works. Rather, be a zooming example and give them a chance to join us.
  • Hiring intelligent people with self-initiative is the fastest, more efficient to evolve our organization. It is also the only way to get a runaway state. Skilled people also do not want to work for a company that drains their initiative. If we find ourselves stuck in an organization with people who only want to be the serfs, it might be necessary to look for a way out. Another word, “You’re not stuck if you don’t want to be.”

In summary:

“The most convenient carrying case for mDNA is the individual. Each individual has his own winning strategy and carries a large number of memes with him to every job and every situation.”

Seth Godin on Survival Is Not Enough, Part 7

In his book, Survival Is Not Enough: Why Smart Companies Abandon Worry and Embrace Change, Seth Godin discusses how innovative organizations and individuals can apply prudent strategies in adapting and positioning themselves for the constant changes.

These are some of my favorite concepts and takeaways from reading the book.

Chapter 7, Serfs, Farmers, Hunters, and Wizards

In this chapter, Seth discusses how different employees can create different sorts of change within an organization. He offers the following observations and recommendations for us to think about:

  • There are four types of people in most organizations:
    • Serfs: They do what they are told.
    • Farmers: They work within the bounds of a winning strategy but constantly use feedback loops to improve the efficiency of their efforts.
    • Hunters: They look for means to expand the company’s winning strategy in ways that the organization probably had not considered before.
    • Wizards: They introduce significant mutations into the company’s mDNA, thus creating opportunities for entirely new winning strategies.
  • Farming, hunting, and wizardry all represent different ways in which zooming organizations can evolve.
  • Many people want to be serfs in a company, and many companies are eager to hire serfs. Our genes drive us to work in a steady job that insulates us from many external changes. Companies hire serfs because the machine-centric view of the enterprise demands people to be compliant cogs. For companies trying to evolve, a large number of serfs is perhaps the most significant single impediment to change.
  • Farmers have understood for thousands of years that focusing on yield is their most important activity. Establishing the communication and follow-up mechanism that permits farmers in our organization to interact and teach others is necessary for their success.
  • Hunters need the freedom to move around and a large territory to roam and identify opportunities. While the hunters have the luxury of not depending on a piece of fixed assets of land, they have a responsibility to report to the people who rely on them for planning food supply. Hunters also need to interact with their peers so that everyone can learn better hunting techniques.
  • Wizards invent opportunities by describing how the organization can use its assets to accomplish something very different. Of course, most of the things the wizard will bring to the organization will not work. However, most organizations fall victim to technology changes by not acting on the ideas of wizards. Unless our organization knows how to zoom, even the wizard’s most excellent idea will go nowhere.

In summary:

“Change is not monolithic. Different sorts of employees create different sorts of change. One of the main reasons organizations fail to change is that they try to introduce the wrong kind of change at the wrong moment.”