Has your canary stopped singing?

When is “business as usual” not “business as usual”?  No one wants to be an alarmist but when must you?  I suppose the bigger challenge is how to do it constructively so people will listen?  It was probably easier in the coal mines when the canary died…that meant there was a build up of carbon monoxide and it was time to get out!  I am betting no one said, “We had canaries die before and nothing happened.”  When the singing stopped, people got out.

The core issue here is goes all the way back to Isaac Newton and his 1st law.  I believe his law applies to both objects and people because we all tend to avoid change unless acted on by an outside force.  This is exacerbated by the fact that the we tend to base our decisions on what “has been” and usually only look at data points that support our current worldview.  Hence the challenge with change…why change if we are doing all the right things?

We can also bring Mr. Darwin into the conversation because of his often mis-quoted line about survival of the fittest.  Sometimes folks want to say the strongest survive and others want to focus on the most adaptable.  Truth is Darwin never said this but we can still find insights from the thought.  We try to simplify things down to sound bites but the assumption regarding adaptability is what we should focus on…the need to adapt is driven by an ever changing environment and that brings us back to the canary.

It would be great if we had our own unique business canary that could warn us when our environment was changing and was no longer safe.  Perhaps then we would acknowledge that our business strategies were flawed or possibly out of date?  Would we be more prone to act if the canary swooned when it saw the most recent cash flow statement?

“A canary, a canary, my kingdom for a canary!” (This bastardization of Shakespeare’s Richard III works on multiple levels…)

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Filed under Adaptation, Strategy

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