Home > Disruptive Change > What’s So Bad About Change

What’s So Bad About Change

OK. So sometimes good today just isn’t good enough for a changed tomorrow.  For example, once, a sleek sailing ship called the “Cutty Sark” was the ruler of the seas.  But her dominance lasted only a short time. What happened?

The Cutty Sark was a three-masted clipper ship with the most advanced design of the times (1869). She was built to prove that sailing ships were superior in speed and reliability to the newly developed steam-powered ships. And indeed, the Cutty Sark did out-perform all steam ships of that time, at least for a while. But unfortunately for the Cutty Sark, the new technology continued to advance, leaving the Cutty Sark utterly outclassed in the wake of high-powered steam ships. Change was bad for the Cutty Sark. But the steam engine opened up a whole new world of opportunities for others – others who had a vision for the potential of this new technology.

But it’s not just about technology. Think about the opportunities “simple” changes can bring the next time you order a Big Mac and fries. The first McDonald’s wasn’t anything special. It was a drive-in restaurant opened during World War II (1940) by two brothers, Maurice and Richard McDonald. Typical of the time, people drove to this restaurant but stayed in their cars to order and eat food delivered to them by “carhops.” The brothers were successful with their drive-in but wanted more and were willing to change.

And they were successful, very successful with simple but game-changing innovations: assembly-line food preparation using unskilled workers instead of short-order cooks, a limited menu with items that could be prepared ahead of time, disposable “dinnerware” for serving food, and self-service. These concepts, put together, revolutionized how Americans… and later the world… thought about food. This change was definitely not bad for many of the businesses that followed – at least for a while.

But change keeps happening. Today, the business world has changed irreversibly as a result of the recession.  Yes that brings challenges, but it also presents opportunities for those leaders who have positioned their businesses to take advantage of the emerging environment. More about today’s changing business environment and the implications of those changes – a topic for another day.

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Categories: Disruptive Change
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