Tuesday, November 23, 2004

SUMMARY: Survival Is Not Enough


Book Summary - Survival Is Not Enough: Zooming, Evolution and the Future of Your Company
by Seth Godin

Book Summary
Survival is not enough: Zooming, evolution and the future of your company
By Seth Godin (Free Press, 2002)
Summary by Jim Dernocoeur

Changes in the marketplace are going to happen continually and you or your company cannot manage it. The author likens this to evolution and shows how companies and people can effectively react and adapt to change allowing them to “zoom” instead of stagnate.

The book uses new language to describe stages and features of business evolution. It encourages continual creation and testing of new ideas to determine quickly and cheaply what works and what does not, and then sending this information to the entire organization. The key is to build an organization based on people who zoom in an environment that encourages this. Faster feedback lets you zoom faster.

The author, who wrote Permission Marketing, delivers fresh, new thinking on how a company can advance in a marketplace of confusion, chaos and change.

CHAPTER 1 - Change
Change in business and in the marketplace is inevitable, like evolution. But most companies concentrate on status quo. Change is resisted, feared. These companies wither and die – Companies like Kinko’s encourage feedback on good changes and spread the good changes to all stores. Factory centric companies lose profits because they cannot adapt fast enough. Upstart companies thrive on change and market confusion. Positive feedback from company employees can build into a runaway lead in the marketplace. Companies need to train employees to make small, positive changes all the time. This is called zooming.

CHAPTER 2 - What Every CEO Needs to Know About Evolution
Like evolution, companies should consistently change to keep up with or beat competition. A “meme” is a unit of innovation much like a gene in heredity. Memes spread quickly aided by the Internet. The speed of memetic evolution is now the speed of our evolution. Periodicity is the time it takes a meme to penetrate the whole business or marketplace. Memes move faster in a population when periodicity is high. Best breeding grounds for memes are places filled with new challenges and multiple changes. Denying evolution will not make it go away. Your competitors will grow stronger in turbulence.

CHAPTER 3 - Fear and Zooming
Things that cause employees to resist change are: Pressure from deadlines, fatigue, fear, and bosses who desire closure, not uncertainty. Company barriers to change are: Committees, and unfair critics. A “successful company” is afraid of losing focus on that success. Market leaders are afraid of failing. Great ideas will not kill us. If one dies, it’s no big deal. Change management fails because it cannot control change. Zooming should be looked on as normal.

CHAPTER 4 - Do You Zoom?
Zooming is about constant change with no particular goal. Five simple steps are given to practice zooming in your daily life. Step out of the ordinary. Train people to zoom in small, incremental steps—continually. Reengineering, shrinking a company does not work. Positive change inertia does.

CHAPTER 5 - Your Company Has mDNA
mDNA is the sum of all the memes, people and assets in an organization. Author creates a new vocabulary, following evolution that stimulates new thinking. Company mDNA must change for a company to change. Companies evolve because the marketplace is turning with competition. But, there is order in what looks like chaos. One company’s change causes a chain reaction by competitors. Change manages you, not vice-a-versa. No one, not CEO’s or stock experts can predict the future. WalMart succeeded because it was organized to evolve. New ideas were constantly tested and the good ones implemented immediately. Hire zoomers and you will zoom faster. Adjusting to small changes lets you accept major new improvements.

CHAPTER 6 - Winning Strategies: Getting Unstuck and Sex
Reliance on a winning strategy makes it difficult to embrace change. Sooner or later a winning strategy stops working. Competent people, who embrace the winning strategy, resist change. Companies become too proud to fail. But, failure is a cornerstone of evolution. Send out the right signals to attract the right employee and customers. Firing people who do not have the right memes is like sexual selection. Combining memes (sex) creates new mDNA and eliminates mutations. Company bullies block zooming. Choose customers who fit with your mDNA.

CHAPTER 7 - Serfs, Farmers, Hunters, and Wizards
Tweaking and testing should be constant. Serfs do what they are told. Farmers work within the winning strategy, using feedback to constantly improve efficiency. Hunters also work within the winning strategy, but expand it in new unimagined ways. Wizards bring significant mutations into a company’s mDNA, creating new opportunities and new winning strategies. Serfs are low paid and eventually replaced by machines. The serf era is ending as serfs are transformed into farmers. Fast feed back loops enable this to happen. Success will go to those who can evolve faster and leverage more valuable assets. Farmers focus on yield. Hunters are more aggressive in expanding their winning strategies. Hiring great employees is the last great bargain. Slack time leads to interpersonal connections and new memes. It’s an investment in tomorrow.

CHAPTER 8 - The Basic Building Block vs. People
Your personal mDNA should fit with your company’s mDNA. If not, and you are a zoomer, leave. Zooming companies build from the bottom up. To change a company start small, ask for volunteers. Set deadlines. Eventually, success will appear. Failures too. Seek out companies that zoom. Put a Z on your resume. Test it.

CHAPTER 9 - Why It Works Now: Fast Feedback and Cheap Projects
One of the main reasons new business development fails in big companies is that it takes too long. Low cost, rapid product development works because it incorporates evolution plus fast feedback loops. Fast feedback lets you weed out bad ideas early. Better to do many small on-going tests, than one major “build the factory first”, project. Use prototypes for testing and feedback. Feedback should concentrate on performance, not the performers. Get your winning strategy right, first.

CHAPTER 10 - Tactics For Accelerating Evolution
The creative and decision-making energy that takes place before a big presentation is called a charrette. Deadlines should be set to stimulate charrettes. Set teams on different deadlines. Do not be perfect, just better. Use expiration dates on strategies to ensure change. Employee suggestion boxes work. Web pages should constantly change, improve via testing. Intelligent leadership piles onto winning strategies. Let zooming start at bottom and flow down to the leaders. Testing and feedback on a variety of strategies are keys because we just do not know what the future holds.

Poses a series of hard questions that can start your company on the way to building an organization that can adapt and respond rather than react to change. Puts you on the way to zooming.

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