A few years ago, investors and analysts had put brick-and-mortar companies like RadioShack and Best Buy on a death watch. There seemed to be no way they could compete against the giant Amazon—with its famously low prices, virtually limitless selection, and two-day delivery options—and come out alive.
Living up to expectations, RadioShack filed bankruptcy in 2015—and again in 2017, after a futile attempt at reviving itself.
Meanwhile, Best Buy managed to pull off one of the strongest corporate comebacks in recent history.
The question on everyone’s mind is, Why?
Here’s a scary thought: Try and picture a world without email.
Indeed, it’s hard to fathom our world functioning as we know it without the wonder that is email. It’s cheap, it’s fast, it’s convenient, it’s just… easy. Few words can be as harrowing and bone-chilling for a business as “email is down.”
But for all its immeasurable benefits, there is a dark side to email. One that can eat away at the very core of any business – even the most successful.
Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer, of Stanford University, accurately summed up the responsibility of a leader:
“Your most important task as a leader is to teach people how to think and ask the right questions, so that the world doesn’t fall apart if you take a day off.”
Perhaps no concept in business is more essential, and at the same time so colossally misunderstood, than delegation. Any rational person knows that they have strengths and limitations. It follows, that tasks should be divvied based on each employees abilities.
Yet for some reason, many business struggle to properly delegate—and the consequences are severe. Sloppy projects. Missed deadlines. Angry clients.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
You turn on your phone, and are greeted by a most familiar message.
An alert flashes across the screen giving you the option to update to the new and improved version of some app or software. Just a tap of the screen and presto! It’s better than ever.
This routine has become so commonplace in our mobile-centric lives. Today’s hyper-paced world has reached dizzying levels of speeds, and software developers are constantly rolling out new updates, security fixes, and improvements to their products in order to keep pace.
While there’s not much to do on our end, in reality there is a lot of work that goes into creating these updates. There is updated code to write, bugs to fix, development, testing, split testing, tweaking, consumer feedback, and more testing. It’s an ongoing, meticulous process.
Much like the phones that (unfortunately) control our lives, we, too, require periodic updates.
As humans, we’re all creatures of habit. We have our morning routine. Our work routine. Our pre-meeting routine. We all just like to get into a rhythm and keep it that way.
After all, sticking to a routine is the key to being productive. Successful people are well-known as sticklers for routine. Routine provides structure. It establishes a sense of security.
Which makes having to change routine so hard.
It means tearing down the habits we worked so hard to create. It means demolishing the cocoon of security around us. Forgetting what we always knew.
Yesterday, I learned this lesson firsthand.