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  • Writer's pictureNigel Rushman

Early Learnings - Future Shock to 10X

Over 30 years ago now I started my first enterprise.

‘Elite Culinary Enterprises’, a snappy name eh? It lead to the imaginatively named ‘Elite Special Events’. At my last count there have been approximately twenty further enterprises to date. Its interesting to me now that I started with the word ‘Enterprise’ in the name of my first business all those years ago. A word that seems to have gained more traction.

Lean Startup? Tell me about it . . .

All twenty of those were started with my own resources. Lean Startup — in the context of those times, it was the only way. Before Steve Blank and Eric Ries turned it into a Science, back then it was ‘intuition’ almost a way of being, for the dedicated few who dared. It was the only way with limited resources ie your own money. If you didn’t learn fast and as inexpensively as possible you were on the ‘History Channel’ (that didn’t exist then but I like the expression) pretty quickly.

Whilst the rest of the world, it seemed to me anyway, watched for my slightest trip (often including people on my own team) there were always the quiet supporters and the champion cheerleaders. Few have an inkling of the enormous pressures of being an entrepreneur. Sometimes staring into the abyss of potential ruination for your family is a chilling and gut wrenching experience leading to some serious stress levels. It is one of those things that you really have to have ‘been there and done it’ to get a true feel, although I do think that the crop of recent business books do get very close to explaining it. Horowitz and co are quite realistic in their portrayal of some of the pressures and pitfalls.

Years ago, in the early 70's I read ‘Future Shock’ by Alvin Toffler and saw him speak. It had a profound effect on me and my thinking. I have a lot to thank him for. He talked about the accelerating pace of change all those years ago and now — well Wow!

Cars are driving themselves, Steve Jobs changed the world (thank you again), the web, online shopping and business — well just look out of the window or somewhere else on the web.

And yet it is staggering that all these years later with change becoming ubiquitous, Moores Law in full play, the time of 10X and the Exponential Organisations there are people still doing things the same way that they were ten years ago. Except they aren't. No, they are using smart phones and all sorts of technology that frankly, they just have to use.

What so many of them are doing though is still thinking and behaving in the same way. Whilst the world just races past them they carry on — business as usual. What they haven't changed is their thinking and attitude. They carry on towards their ‘Kodak Moment’ where they suddenly awake and find that their enterprise is irrelevant. Value is being delivered more efficiently by someone else.

How weird is that? That so many have just stopped learning. Why is that, are they stupid or lazy or is it all just unbelievable for them in the face of overwhelming evidence? How can anyone possibly compete or even survive in a enterprise sense when every single bit of the environment has changed.

The only reliable constant is that everything is changing.

It is the pace of that change that is the challenge and the opportunity. Just as Alvin Toffler predicted.

And now we have all the really great and exciting principles of Design Thinking and Lean Startups, fantastic tools to Learn, Collaborate, Communicate, Manage and fulfill. There has never been a better time to lift up your gaze, observe, think and then act. Harness the changes and opportunities.

I dont want to change anything, I want to change everything, for the better.

All this learning is really fantastic and I am always so grateful to the great writers, especially in the last couple of years who so readily share their ideas and learnings with us through their books, blogs and tweets.

Blimey — its hard work keeping up with it all, but we must. Constantly learn and adapt and change (maybe even ‘Pivot’) or slowly become irrelevant in Enterprise terms. Sadly I know of no other way.

That is what our clients pay us for to be ahead of the pack or at the least up in the front. They want us to keep them up there. Its a 24/7 job and they need to be close to the prevailing winds themselves if they are not to be blown off course.

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