Seth Godin on Survival Is Not Enough, Part 8

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 8, The Basic Building Block is People

In this chapter, Seth discusses how individuals can zoom within an organization or find one that would allow them to zoom. He offers the following observations and recommendations for us to think about:

  • As an employee, every one of our jobs is just a stopover on a lifelong journey of personal evolution. When we move from one organization to another, we take the learning from one job to the next. Unfortunately, depending on the organization, most of the learning we bring with us will be useless at best, dangerous at worst.
  • To build a zooming organization, we need to deprogram ourselves from time to time. This is because a zooming organization has a fundamentally different set of memes about how it conducts business. While it is hard to give up the winning strategy we are comfortable with, adopting the continual change that comes with zooming can help us evolve more quickly and with a greater chance of succeeding.
  • For an individual who decides to zoom, it is up to the employee to find a great boss and figure out how to use the company the best possible way. The critical element is to adopt increasingly more powerful winning strategies to advance our careers.
  • When the great people leave to join companies that let them zoom, runaway sets in. Those organizations can zoom ever faster, making them more fun, more stable, and more profitable over time. But this process cannot happen until individual employees choose and develop their zooming ability along with the organization.
  • We may have decided to zoom, but how would we transform an organization filled with non-zoomers? How can we get everyone in the organization aligned, focused on the same tactics, and willing to take risks to find success? The answer to both questions may be surprising. Don’t.
  • Do not try to force the reactionaries to change. Do not spend hours cajoling the “serfs” to give up their bondage and become farmers, hunters, and wizards. Instead, we should teach them how to think about the issue and understand the implications. Forcing people to change rarely works. Rather, be a zooming example and give them a chance to join us.
  • Hiring intelligent people with self-initiative is the fastest, more efficient to evolve our organization. It is also the only way to get a runaway state. Skilled people also do not want to work for a company that drains their initiative. If we find ourselves stuck in an organization with people who only want to be the serfs, it might be necessary to look for a way out. Another word, “You’re not stuck if you don’t want to be.”

In summary:

“The most convenient carrying case for mDNA is the individual. Each individual has his own winning strategy and carries a large number of memes with him to every job and every situation.”