Seth Godin on Survival Is Not Enough, Part 5

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 5, Your Company Has mDNA

In this chapter, Seth discusses a company’s meme DNA (mDNA) and how organizations can leverage the mDNA metaphor to embrace and adopt changes. He offers the following observations and recommendations for us to think about:

  • A company’s mDNA comprises the rules, processes, policies, market position, and people in the company. Without this mDNA, an organization would forget, from day to day, what it did and how it operated yesterday. What an organization did before today often plays a significant role in planning to do business tomorrow.
  • Unlike human DNA, the company mDNA can mutate as often as the business wants it to. The mDNA must change before the organization can change. Trying to change a business and its people without mutating the mDNA is not possible.
  • The business ecosystem is made up of many businesses. Each business in that environment is a smaller system, but all of them are in the same environment, entwined with each other. At each step along the way, a business, like organisms in nature, evolves along with its people and sub-organizations.
  • The job of the CEO is not to be right about the future as it is impossible to get everything bit right. The position of the CEO is to organize the company to execute a strategy that is winning for now, at the same time, to organize the company to evolve often enough to find the next strategy before today’s plan becomes useless.
  • Companies that can zoom are more likely to evolve, more likely to be launching innovative new products and services, and more likely to be successful. In addition, a company that knows how to zoom more than likely will attract employees who want to zoom. “When your company starts hiring zoomers, it’s going to zoom faster!”
  • Most of the fantastic big business ideas did not initially come from start-ups. Instead, they came from the research group inside big companies that were too rigid to do anything with them. “The challenge companies face is not in inventing new ideas. It’s in moving the old ideas out of the way so that they can implement the new ones.”

In summary:

“Organizations can put the proven tactics of evolution to use by embracing change, not fighting it. By incorporating adopting successful new memes into a company’s mDNA, organizations can defeat their slower competitors.”