Don’t fall for the Time Horizon Fallacy / Your Organization’s Worldview is Shaping Your Future / Meet radical Ally, Samantha Snabes
Welcome to the radical Briefing 0006. If you are anything like us, there are way too many things to do, way too many emails to answer and way too much fist-pumping exciting stuff you really, really want to get to! Every day, we have to keep telling ourselves to ‘make the main thing, the main thing’ (Stephen Covey). Not easy, but this maniacal focus keeps us executing on our mission to help you build a radically different and positive future. We truly believe focus is queen. So with that being said, if you don’t have time to read the briefing right now, that’s OK! Snooze us till later when you got that main thing crushed! Enjoy!
Don’t fall for the Time Horizon Fallacy
Steve Blank (of Business Model Canvas-fame) just published an article on Harvard Business Review titled “McKinsey’s Three Horizons Model Defined Innovation for Years. Here’s Why It No Longer Applies.” In the article, Steve makes the case that the innovation time horizons (the time it takes to develop a disruptive innovation) have shrunken so much, that McKinsey’s Three Horizons Model starts to fail us somewhat.
I think his analysis is flawed (not his conclusions – I wholeheartedly agree with those!).
In the first part of his analysis, Steve makes the argument that disruptors such as Tesla, Space X, Craigslist or Uber, and AirBnB have become the disruptive force they are effectively overnight. It is an argument you often hear – and one which is, in my eyes, mostly not true.
Steve Jobs once observed: “Things happen fairly slowly, you know. They do. These waves of technology, you can see them way before they happen, and you just have to choose wisely which ones you’re going to surf. If you choose unwisely, then you can waste a lot of energy, but if you choose wisely, it actually unfolds fairly slowly. It takes years.”
He is right. As we at radical show in our new “Knowledge Adoption Curve”-model, the vast amount of disruptive innovations take a long time to gestate. Tesla was not an overnight success (even if it might feel like one) but was incorporated 15 years ago. The (in)famous paper from Satoshi Nakamoto which outlined the workings of a blockchain was published in November 2008. I remember sitting in a meeting room with Garrett Camp in 2009 where he told me about Uber.
As we show in the Knowledge Adoption Curve, stuff takes time to mature – but once it hits, it hits hard and fast; which is the reason why we often make the mistake of believing these disruptions happened overnight.
Insights worth reading this week:
Your Organization’s Worldview is Shaping Your Future
Every company has its own ‘worldview’, made up by a complex model of how everything works inside an organization, and how to act within it. Our worldview will also guide our thinking, can determine scope and sets us on a certain strategic path. It’s always there, though, we are rarely conscious of its effect.
Made up of a network of values and beliefs, your worldview determines how you and your people make sense of your world. This does not happen overnight. Behaviors and beliefs are repeated and reinforced, sculpting the culture you have today. With every new hire and new project this system is cumulatively cultivated, and as we’ve all seen - it can grow in good ways and bad.
So it would make sense that as the future is quickly shifting, that we not only examine our business models, products, technologies, markets etc. to ensure continued success. But we also take time to examine the patterns of beliefs we collectively hold, and how our culture works. Regardless of a new sound strategic direction, if our people are operating from a former and perhaps more narrow worldview, they will not be able to ‘see’ and therefore execute forward.
Culture is difficult to change and a complex beast. That’s often why it’s the last thing a company wants to tackle, even though they know it’s critical to their survival. Working with the concept of a ‘worldview’ can be simpler. Think of it as evolving or stabilizing shared meaning and understanding within your org. That first means getting clear on what you hold as values and beliefs, then having your people continually communicate and act upon them.
It’s a reciprocal system. A person effects culture and culture affects the person (though culture has more weight in effect). Change, therefore, truly does happen one person at a time. That, of course, is going to take time and the good news is, with conscious intention is completely achievable.
Leadership articles worth reading this week:
Meet radical Ally, Samantha Snabes
Samantha is an officer in the Air National Guard and the CEO and Co-Founder for re:3D where she works with dirty fingernails facilitating global connections between others printing at the human-scale and/or using recycled materials.
A serial entrepreneur, she currently volunteers as the Chair of IEEE Entrepreneurship. Previously, she served as the Social Entrepreneur-in-Residence for NASA HQ and Deputy Strategist supporting the NASA JSC Space Life Sciences Directorate after selling a start-up for a DARPA-funded, co-patented tissue culture device.