Narrative connections

Stop the Madness

Stop the Madness

Back in 1999, I worked for a Dotcom that was going to disrupt the entire distribution business. We went from 15 to 115 people in the blink of an eye and we cut through millions of venture capital money like a hot knife through butter. Internally, people were super excited because they thought they were going to get filthy rich based on the innovative platform we had created. Unfortunately, we found out that having a relationship with the market actually mattered more than the fancy website and two years later, the doors closed.

For decades, we have gobbled up the idea of innovation like pigs at the trough. Our addiction to technology is only dwarfed by our undying commitment to the “next best thing.” And while innovation has brought us growth, high tech does not have exclusive rights to creativity. In fact, the greatest innovations in history occurred long before a young pimple-faced William Gates or Steve Jobs emerged.

The printing press may have been one of the single greatest innovations of all time. It revolutionized communication and it is still making an impact today. Its sustainability is largely attributed to maintenance and not reinvention. It’s simply amazing how one single innovation created a host of businesses and jobs that has lasted centuries.

In today’s world, we believe that innovation is synonymous with progress. We push ourselves hard to develop the next launch of a solution and we browbeat everyone to think disruptively. However, if everyone is so busy trying to disrupt, then you have to wonder who the hell is maintaining what was good in the first place.

The addiction to innovation has devastating productive and cultural consequences. With a collective mindset focused on creating the next iteration of a product or solution, we don’t realize how critically important overall maintenance is to our businesses and our lives. The reality is that we spend most of our time managing our equipment, our health, our communities and the processes that allow our businesses to succeed. In turn, if everyone is working on disruption and innovation, our foundation starts to crack beneath us.

We can—and should—be open to innovation if it is in the interest of real progress and not just for the sake of it. But to sustain success, we need to acknowledge and support what got us here in the first place. Specifically, we must nurture the relationships that matter. We need to take this opportunity to ask ourselves what is worth preserving rather than what to disrupt. The concept of disruption is rooted in fear and negativity because it asks what is wrong and what needs change. True success lies in embracing what works and maintaining a connection with your community.

Don’t get me wrong—I am all for being creative and innovating for the sake of providing value. However, I don’t subscribe to the idea that we must be constantly looking to push the boundaries of how many inkjet heads can be squeezed into a machine, the next app for CRM or 5D TV. At some point, we need to acknowledge the greatest of our past, our people and our relationships.

Maintaining and deepening your connection with your market is where promise lies. If you want to truly innovate, it starts with the client and your understanding of their needs and desires. No innovation can persist without the constant nurturing of customer relations. It follows that letting go of innovation for the sake of innovation depends on culture and management. Good business, no matter what the circumstances may be, is possible only with good planning that takes an organization’s preexisting culture and values into account.

I submit to you that your future does not depend on disruption. Success will grow from constant care and a nurturing and supportive approach to those you serve.

Be the Buffalo!

Mark Potter

Mark Potter

Founder / Consultant

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