This post is the thirty-first part of a ramble-rant about the software business. The current posts in this series are:
- Goodwill, Negative and Positive
- Visions, Quests, Missions
- Right, Wrong, and Style
- Follow Me
- Balance, Part 1
- Balance, Part 2
- Definition of a Great Team
- The 15-Minute Meeting
- Metaproblems: Drama
- The Right Question
- Software is Organic, Part 1
- Metaproblem: Terror
- I Don't Work On My Car
- A Turning Point
- Human Doings
- Everything Changes
- Getting It Right The First Time
- One-Time Boosts
- Perfection vs. Precision
- Software is Organic, Part 2
- Business Losses and "I Don't Know"
- T-SQL Tuesday: Personality Clashes, Style Collisions, and Differences of Opinion
- Human Resources Sucks
- The Integrity Challenge
- Sounds Good...
This post is about disruption.
Disruption Requires Disruptors
Most organizations have a sign out front that reads:
Does this sign physically exist? Of course not. It's there though. Check out the hiring policies. Take a gander at the pay. Look at the process for nominating members of leadership. Is there a plays-well-with-others requirement? Does it scream "Same old, same old"? Or does it convey "Innovation Welcome Here!"
Change never occurs in a vacuum. This includes changes in thinking and mindset. And changes in thinking and mindset include the change of thinking of your competition as your worst enemy to considering them the entity or individual who will willingly show you your weaknesses and flaws. The process isn't easy or fun, but the alternative is disastrous - whether you win or lose. Allow me to demonstrate:
Suppose you lose. That's easy right? Your business model collapses, business stops, customers go elsewhere. All bad and all fairly simple to understand.
Suppose you win. In this case, a lot depends on how you win. If you are completely above reproach in the methods you choose for competition, your ethics spotless, your actions unimpeachable; then you're probably fine. Most likely your competition imploded (it happens).
But if you weren't...
Nothing happens in secret. Stuff that happens in Vegas does not stay in Vegas. People remember. If you cut a partner, every other partner will harbor suspicions that you will do the same to them. If you've done it before, you have demonstrated you're capable of doing it again. If you engaged in business for the sole purpose of destroying competition? You've demonstrated to your team and the market that winning is everything to you, regardless of who gets hurt. This is especially true when the "winning" entity is large and established and the "loser" is not. (Check out this article about dealing with aggressive roosters. There's sage advice in here, along with some good information about dealing with roosters!)
Breaking The Cycle
Real, live change is required to reverse such patterns of behavior. Not lip-service. Or doing enough to make people think you're changing (what people think will not take you down; only you are capable of that). It will be disruptive. You will not like it.
You will like not doing it even less.
Disruption is at once the most painful and most effective way to break the cycle.