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Perspectives: Let Go of Resistance
The first step to reinvention is moving past yesterday’s breadwinners. To achieve an unconventional result, employ unconventional strategies and tactics.
Smoke jumpers are highly trained, highly evolved, elite firefighters who parachute into difficult terrain to put out wildfires. They need to have an extensive resume in remote terrain firefighting and be skilled in all of the tools of the trade. They must be in excellent physical condition and possess a high degree of emotional stability and mental alertness.In the last century, 15 of the bravest smoke jumpers were battling a fire in a deep canyon when suddenly the inferno turned and raced right at them. The men tried to retreat, scrambling up the steep walls to get away. Tragically, 12 souls were lost.The testimony of the three survivors and a review of the scene revealed a surprising finding. Large poleaxes, shovels and 12 heavy backpacks, in all some 115 pounds per man of professional gear, were on the ground hundreds of yards from where the smoke jumpers first turned from fighting the wildfire to race away. Only three dropped their gear early; the rest couldn’t let go until it was too late.This is all too human. Those tools represented who they were. Dropping them was like abandoning their knowledge and relationships for uncertainty. It was a hard choice, and the majority of them never had a second chance to learn how to make the right choices in the future.The same is true of all of us. When we’ve got something we want, we’ll resist like hell before letting go.During research for my book, The Reinventors — How Extraordinary Companies Pursue Radical Continuous Change, my research team and I identified nine skill sets shared by organizations that have mastered the art of embracing continuous change. Here are three of them. Yesterday’s breadwinners: Every product or service has a natural life cycle that begins with an introduction, followed by growth, maturity and inevitably a decline as it becomes yesterday’s breadwinner. There are no exceptions. One would imagine any highly intelligent business leader would be quick to offload its crumb bearers, but history repeatedly demonstrates that even the best companies — much like the smokejumpers — find it impossible to let go of their legacy services and products and frequently hold onto them so long they end up destroying the enterprise.
The Next Generation of HR: What’s Wrong? What’s Right?
May 23rd 1:00pm - 2:00pm CT
2013 CLO Breakfast Club, Boston
September 12th - 12th, 2013The Westin Copley Place
Fall 2013 CLO Symposium
September 30th - October 2nd, 2013Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa
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