It was a couple of weeks ago that my wife and I had the opportunity to go to a backyard party at a friend’s house in our town. My mother-in-law offered to babysit, so we were off to have some fun. We live in a walk-friendly city, so after getting dressed for the occasion, we started our walk through town. We took a detour to get a bottle of wine for the hosts; I made an additional impulse gum purchase. We were a little giddy since this was a bit of a departure from our parenting life.
As we approached the four-floor apartment building, we didn’t see any activity or noise that suggested a big backyard party was happening. No signs, no people, and other than the blowing wind, no noise. My wife began to nervously check her phone for details, and I asked her, “Wrong street?”, thinking I would calm the nerves. No big deal, I was already thinking, we may just have to walk one more block. In disbelief, she laughed and replied, “Nope. The party was last night.”
Okay, deep breath. We start to calculate the new scenario that life had just presented to us. Babysitter at home, bottle of wine bottle in hand – yet no wallets, as we were planning to go to a backyard BBQ at a friend’s house. Now what? We decided to make a night of it and go out to dinner – of course, we had to stop at home first to get money and explain the mishap to my son and mother-in-law, and after a few more laughs, we ended up having a nice dinner out.
This is a trivial change in our day-to-day lives, but it a good reminder that life is not always scripted. We need to welcome changes, and some changes happen to be more sudden than others. In business, the digital tsunami is forcing companies of all kinds, shapes, and sizes to realize that if we cannot adapt to opportunity shifts caused by constant evolution of digital technology, we will simply not be in existence for much longer.
This was precisely the message from John Chambers, departing Cisco CEO, at a recent customer conference in San Diego. He noted that over the next ten years 70% of companies would “attempt” to go digital, but only 30% of those would succeed.
One way to survive the digital tsunami is to foster a culture of innovation – one that puts some padding around an experimental playground. Companies that are continuously trying new approaches and concepts that leverage the shifting technological winds will prevail – even with some failures along the way. 1 or 2 failures, 4 or 5 successes – this risk-and-reward approach to experimentation outpaces those that end up with no failures and no successes. Those that don’t experiment, focus on innovation will be left behind.
Adapt or go home. Or adapt, go home, get some money, and go out!
For more on fostering an innovative workplace, see Business Networks: The Platforms for Future Innovation.