- leverage contingencies -
In an unfamiliar and rapidly changing market, learning faster than your competitor is key. When moving forward under uncertainty, you will come across quite a few surprises. Some positive, often wrongly perceived as luck, and some negative with even the potential to kill your entire project. In our opinion, you should never kill a project. If there is a lemon that convinces you to do so, slice the lemon and juice it. Study the juice and understand what the lemon is trying to teach you. It should offer you directions to change course and not simply abandon ship.
A lot of people will tell you to fail forward fast, fail often and that failure is a good thing as it offers you a learning experience. We believe that we should rethink what we consider failure. Failure is only failure in our opinion, when the fat lady has stopped singing. Failure is only true failure when we stop moving forward and don’t do anything with what was learned. Apple has tried to bring something that we could consider an iPad almost half a century ago and that didn’t work at the time. We think this learning experience taught Jobs to have an App Store in place. The introduction should never have been considered to be a failure but it should be seen as an experiment that offered learning possibilities. There are a lot of science based organizations in the world and even they don’t experiment in the market, only safely in the labs…
If the world offers you lemons, make lemonade. Learn from surprises and adapt.
Accountability is a good thing because it makes us persevere, it makes us strive to complete tasks but it also keeps us from adapting ideas that are less than brilliant. We have passed the tipping point of accountability. We are too much focused on achieving the short term results and financial incentives and that has killed adaptability and learning. We have to rethink the balance between accountability and learning in most corporates. The shareholders are mostly share-traders and are simply in it for the short-term trading possibilities where most other stakeholders are in it for the long-term. We need to refocus and aim for the long-term when operating in an unpredictable, uncertain and rapidly changing market. This translates to experimentation, collaboration and learning. This will increase your chances for survival and offers you the opportunity to really make a difference.