“I need to keep my job relevant or I’ll be out of work.” You’ve heard it, seen other people’s faces when they are thinking it and maybe you have had this exact thought yourself. This instinctual thought process is the biggest reason organizations innovate slowly (or sometimes not at all). When they do innovate, it is painful and involves layoffs. The cycle feeds on itself: employees continuously find ways to avoid participating in change in the name of self-preservation. It works for a little while but then ends with self-annihilation.
If you’re thinking “that’s not me”, think again. Even rock stars fear the type of change that is truly self-preserving: eliminating their own job.
We can all claim that we embrace change because we all do to some degree. But self-preserving change is not change around the edges of what we personally do. Making changes that only make you yourself more productive helps you win the short-term race. You can persevere through cost-cutting driven layoffs, get modest raises and receive incremental promotions. You will still be devoured by the disruptive change that will eventually hit your space, though. This is the change that doesn’t do what you do better, it replaces what you do entirely.
Think Fight Club: on a long enough timeline, the survival rate for every job drops to zero. There are people and companies out there designing substitutes for what you do, and they are going to succeed at some point. The situation is ever more urgent because innovation cycles are getting shorter.
You have the advantage, though. [Read more...]