Seth Godin on Survival Is Not Enough, Part 4

In his book, Survival Is Not Enough: Why Smart Companies Abandon Worry and Embrace Change, Seth Godin discusses how innovative organizations and individuals can apply prudent strategies in adapting and positioning themselves for the constant changes.

These are some of my favorite concepts and takeaways from reading the book.

Chapter 4, Do You Zoom?

In this chapter, Seth discusses the concept of Zooming and why it is essential to start zooming before a crisis comes. He offers the following observations and recommendations for us to think about:

  • Seth stated that “Zooming is about stretching your limits without threatening your foundation. It’s about handing new ideas, new opportunities, and new challenges without triggering the change-avoidance reflex.”
  • With the constant changes, many companies are now stretched beyond their zoom-width. As a result, they see everything new as a threat instead of an opportunity. If we can learn how to zoom and then hire people who want to zoom with the organization, the organization can grow, adapt, and perhaps even transform itself.
  • Zooming is different from change management. Change management is about making adjustments for a significant change or an urgent change with a purpose. Change management is a one-time event, followed by a period of healing.
  • On the other hand, Zooming is about developing the flexibility for constant change. Zooming prepares us to deal with changes for no particular reason or specific goals. We do not have to heal from Zooming any more than we need to recover from breathing.
  • Although every company zooms, some zoom more than others. Increasing our zoom width is a challenge, but the practice can build an asset that pays off for the organization.
  • More importantly, the best time to start zooming is before our company looks at a significant, life-threatening change. We should get into the habit of making frequent, small changes first. Then work our way up to bigger things.
  • Zooming is not the same as traditional re-engineering. A zooming organization is not worried about making today’s machine work better. It is more concerned with being flexible enough to put its assets to work building tomorrow’s machine
  • Re-engineering is a fancy term for layoff and labor force reduction. Flexible organizations make better use of their assets, and the first asset they maximize is their people. Unfortunately, the reality is that we cannot always shrink our way to greatness.
  • Most organizations get attached to the winning strategy that has made the organization’s assets valuable. As the world changed, the assets grew much less helpful, but the organization still hopes to reclaim the former glory by sticking with the old strategy that offers certainty. Unfortunately, fear and inertia keep a company standing still.
  • However, if our new winning strategy is that nothing is certain with change inevitable and welcome, we will likely not be disappointed by the reality.