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Want to beat the economy?
How eating our own dog food can help
Compiled on VS019 flying London to San Francisco and dispatched the next day from my hotel in San Bruno via a free LAN provided by my hotel
Here we are in an ever-complex world, driven by technology and accelerating change, with those at the head of the game hanging on by their fingernails. Our electronically interconnected world is not only faster than 20 years ago - it is manifestly chaotic and non-linear.
So the sudden collapses of entire business sectors can now be triggered by seemingly insignificant events. Yes, we are now governed by butterfly wings just like the weather system!
How can we be expected to survive in business under such conditions? Experiment! We have to experiment to see what works and what doesn't. Hanging on to our old ways and methodologies is tantamount to passively waiting for the grim reaper. It is essential that we subsume the latest ideas and technologies, try and test them, adapt them to our environment, and adopt them ahead of the competition.
My business is one continual experiment! It is about pushing the limits of technology and people to see where the opportunities lie and what their real impact is or might be. It is not sufficient to read reports and monitor the press and media - we have to be hands-on and keep up with the curve.
How do we do it? By eating our own dog food! When we advise people of fixes and systems for them, it is on the basis of tried and tested experiences - our own experiences and those of our customers.
Individual members of staff and associates are allocated a specific and challenging technology or operational mode to champion. If they can live with it, or adapt it, and see some business advantage, we then adopt it universally.
So what has our experimenting returned in recent years, and what realisations have we come to? Here is a short list:
The drive to become ever more efficient inevitably leads to brittleness and failure. More than ever companies need to be resilient. They need to be able to weather the continual storm and bounce back, which implies some slack, inefficiency and perhaps a short-term reduction in earnings. In short: the long term has to be number one over short termism. This implies more investment in experimentation and the R&D budget.
The biggest realisation and business/political change now coming over the horizon? Continual business and country GDP growth is fundamentally impossible across this planet of limited physical resources but it may well be possible in the world of bits.
I think we are going to have to spend more time thinking, modelling, war gaming and experimenting than ever before!