“Well, ya see, sir, I understand you’re lookin’ for sparrin’ partners for Apollo, and I jus’ want ta let ya know that I am very available.”
— “Rocky”, 1976 movie
I’ve just finished reading Seth Godin’s “The dip” where he advocates “quitting as an intelligent strategy”. Seth goes as long as suggesting that “(t)he only position you can count on now is best in the world”. One of examples in the book that particularly impressed me was Jack Welch, true to his “fix it, sell it or close it” principle. How many businesses are there that will dare to “sell a billion-dollar division that’s making a profit quite happily while ranking #4 in market share”? GE did exactly that.
Pause for a moment and look around. You’ll see a lot of companies that even do not dare dreaming about being the best in their world. Chances are all the companies you’ll see are of this very kind. No wonder. It’s hard to find those shooting for best in the world even going through mission statements of Fortune 500 companies. (Yes, I do understand that all these so-called mission statements can be, as Tom Fishburne suggests, just “laughable reading”.)
You may argue that dominant number of shy enterprises is not a problem. Thankfully, businesses are free to die (which is rarely the case) or to sink into mediocrity. After all, Drucker hit the bull’s eye suggesting that “(k)nowledge workers outlive organizations, and they are mobile”. The problem is that organisation must embrace boldness as one of its core values in order to go for best in the world. And boldness is not fit for everyone.
This suggests that our society is misdesigned for everyone’s wellbeing. Now, it’s not a problem. It is disaster. Shall most of us change our value systems to include boldness into them then? Or shall we change the world so it permits ways to survival other than being best in the world? As humanity, are we facing the Dip, the Cul-de-Sac, or maybe the Cliff?