Monday, March 19, 2018

Protecting the Secret Sauce



“If it ain’t broke…don’t fix it!”  How many times in our lifetime have we heard those words?  I am sure the owner of the horse crop supply store said that at the beginning of the 1900’s.  Of course, he did not believe that the up and coming “horseless carriage” was going to be a thing.  How about the movie producers that said “talkies will never catch on”?  How about Dick Rowe who famously said, “Guitar bands are on the way out, Mr. Epstein.”  Mr. Epstein, as in Brian Epstein, the manager of the Beatles, was hoping Decca Records would sign up the Beatles and the rejection.  Who would have thought the greatest toy store growing up and while my kids were little would one day shutter their doors?  If we do not change our perspective and remain with a singular point of view, nothing will break, so we will never fix (change) things.  However, once we step out of our narrow focus, we can begin to see that we could be left behind (do we still need fax machines?) as the rest of the world progresses forward.

If the above is true, then why do we waste precious time and effort to protect what we have instead of focusing on what is a better benefit for the greater good of our future?  I understand that we all work hard towards our achievements, have had wonderful experiences and fond (and sometimes not so fond) memories of past events.  These are the things that help to shape us, in some cases to define us and our outlook, and provide comfort to our existence.  It has been pointed out that success does not stay with us but is something that is fleeting, which means that if we are to focus and enjoy the journey - once we have reached the goal, instead of sitting on our laurels we should be heading out onto the next journey.

These thoughts are rattling around my brain as I am heading towards completion of a project that started over a year ago and the opportunity before me to become president of a volunteer organization where I am one of the younger board members.  For the project, as with most projects, the user community is comfortable with what they have in front of them.  They will make it clear, they are used to going to a specific spot to perform a specific task.  In the volunteer world, many of the people I work alongside can talk of the “golden era” which was before I came into view.  It is nice to reminisce, but that does nothing to help address the issues staring us in the face.  In both cases, people are working hard to sell their position based on the past.  It is similar to meeting an adult that talks about the glory days of their high school football accomplishments, living as though the calendar has not marched forward 25 years.  This is a trap that is easy to fall into.  We have no problem to draw a circle around ourselves, keeping ourselves inside the comfort zone, or in some cases, as we age we tend to take less risks for fear of losing what we have.

Once the world moves forward, it will never be in the same place again.  Our challenge, therefore, is to look towards tomorrow, to try to see where the future is going, and to participate in that potential future.  Otherwise, like the horse crop, the Polaroid camera, the telex machine, or the mimeograph, we too will be sent out to pasture.