Don't Blame The Eggs
Updated: Jan 26, 2020
Photo by Tengy Art on Unsplash
Organizations of all types have at least one thing in common - they exist to solve problems that need to be solved. If you are not solving a problem, there is no need for your business, your charity, your educational institute, ...insert your organization here. The quickest way to focus on what you should be doing next is to consider that action in light of the problem(s) you are trying to solve. If that action is not part of your problem solving effort, do less of it. If that action is part of solving the problem(s) you solve, do more of it!
If this is true (and it is true), we need to be aware of the tendency we have towards "organizational drift". We often don't spend enough time & resources making sure that the problem(s) we solve is/are still one(s) that needs to be solved. The growth and future of our organization depends on ensuring that we are solving a real problem and the more important, urgent and pervasive the problem, the greater your opportunity. If - ~100 years ago - you were a person who was solving the "stubborn horse pulling a carriage" problem, you should have also been planning for a time when those newfangled cars would become ubiquitous and no one would need your current product. Automobiles don't need buggy whips (or hay delivery, or carriage wheel spoke repairs...).
We have a perverse tendency to distrust - if not to shoot -the messenger who brings news there is change afoot that will make the current solution(s) we are offering less attractive or obsolete. Instead of seeking out the voices that can offer insights on improving on our problem solving offering, we can find comfort in the echo chamber of the familiar. Speaking on the topic of the slowdown in progress that America (and the world) is experiencing, Patrick Collison, a co-founder and the CEO of the financial-technology company Stripe said, “I think we should be much more disappointed about the slowdown in progress than most people tend to be... the status quo, and our broader societal ability to generate innovation, is almost certainly in need of significant change. But if we’re not producing enough gold, it’s important that we blame the geese, not the eggs.”
The leaders of organizations are the "geese" Collison is referring to; the people who choose how the resources will be spent and where the energy will be focused. It's critical that we are intentional in our efforts to constantly question the solution we are providing and the (continued) validity of the problem we are solving. Get out of your comfort zone, seek out fresh perspectives and invest in external resources that will help ensure you don't show up at the auto show with a shiny new buggy whip...
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