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Survival of the Luckiest

Survival of the Luckiest


Hi everyone it’s Chris, and I have a question for you: Do you feel lucky? Luck is something we don’t talk about very much in business – we don’t consider it part of business
if we possibly can help it, and I guess there’s a good reason for that, you know.
Luck is more likely to impact your personal life, because we accept that our personal
lives have complexity in them – there may be chaos in them – but we try to order
everything in business, so we try to make sure that luck is not a part of what we’re doing.
But it is, right? Luck is the positive or negative, or improbable
chance that can happen to human beings, so this can happen to businesses as well as
it can happen to individuals. Now, why luck is important, why am I
talking about luck? Well, we discount this a lot in business where we really should
be thinking about it, because in business we tend to believe, not in survival of
the luckiest, but in the survival of the fittest, right? The most fit for purpose.
Who is going to have the best product, you know, who’s best positioned for the
market, who’s best… you know, whatever, and that’s fine, except for the fact that it’s
long been understood now that survival of the fittest is not actually
a thing, right. Survival of the luckiest – and this is where we
start talking about, not luck in terms of you know, how we consider luck, but
serendipity, opportunities, beneficial discovered opportunities that can take
us on new, better paths, especially in business, okay, and this is a this is a
complexity theory thing I talk about in a number of my videos. So, why is
survival of the luckiest more important? Well, at the right time, having a product
that is just fit enough is much better than having the best product possible
overall in completely the wrong time. And this worked in evolution as well, right?
Being the best possible predator on earth means nothing
if you aren’t at the right time to take advantage of it and become dominant
in, you know, the ecosystem. So this is really important, right – the survival of
the luckiest is survival of the “just fit enough at the right time”, when you’re
serendipitous enough to be able to utilize that fitness, right? Not fitness
overall. And too many companies that I see are focused utterly on their
products, and they don’t look at anything else in terms of the serendipity, finding
new opportunities, the infrastructure behind the product, right – the product is
not the be-all and the end-all. It is important, but it’s not the be-all and the end-all. Everything has to work because this is a complex system, not a
very simple one, and that’s a mistake that a lot of leadership make with
companies, you know. You can’t treat it like a very simple, ordered creature,
because it it just isn’t, right. So when we’re talking about the survival of the
luckiest, what we’re talking about are two things really; the ability to adapt,
right, and adaptation is something we talk about a lot in business. It’s a – you
know, it’s a key word in a lot of a lot of meetings and a lot of
projections – we’ve got to adapt to this market, or we want to adapt people to us,
or people coming to us have to adapt. You know, I think it’s overused.
Adaptation takes a very long time. Dave Snowden gives a brilliant example
of this with Cynefin, which is the complexity theory framework that I use,
and he gives an example of dinosaurs that, you know, small dinosaurs
that were climbing trees, back, pre-avian dinosaurs if you like,
back in prehistory. And inevitably one of these guys will have fallen out of a
tree and you hit the floor when you fall out of a tree, and it’s often,
you know, terminal in terms of damage. So adapting to being able to fall out of a
tree is not something that actually animals can do, right? You don’t have time
to adapt. Adaptation takes a very long time. And this is very similar to companies. Companies can’t adapt to a wildly
shifting market quickly unless they are a startup, right, and even then they may
find that they can’t do it fast enough. Adaptation takes a long time. It’s
a years game, right. However, there’s something different called exaptation,
and exaptation is the ability to radically repurpose what you already
have to fit new circumstances. So it’s kind of a “trying anything that
works”. So in the case of these dinosaurs, it’s now known that dinosaurs
all had feathers, for mating displays, or for warmth, or whatever we
think that it now was, so pretty much all dinosaurs had feathers is now accepted.
And when one of these fell out of a tree they didn’t – on the way down – try to adapt
by mutating and growing feathers, right? They already have the feathers, and so
they you know, whatever, did this, and found that their fall slowed, or they even
glided slightly, you know? And so over time that became more and more and more
used. That was exaptation of something that already existed, and
humans do this very naturally. We hoard stuff. We say ooh, I could use this in a
project, maybe I’ll need that thing somewhere, right – maybe not fit for
the purpose originally. Palettes – let’s use pallets for coffee tables or shoe
racks or whatever it is. We exapt things very naturally. Businesses do this as
well. Many businesses have actually innovated by exapting very quickly a
product that wasn’t fit for the right market, or getting rid of that product
completely. But what do you have in place? You’ve got the infrastructure, the
strategy, the business decisions are made for whatever the product is going to be. You’ve got the finances set up, business units may be ready. You can exapt to
meet the demands of a very quickly shifting marketplace, in this new market
landscape we’re all in, much faster than you can adapt, or force the adaptation of
others, right? So look at serendipity, look at opportunities. Be fit, but also be
aware of opportunities and serendipity. You need both – “survival of the luckiest
and just fit enough where it suits”. Know if you need to adapt, know if you
need to exapt and you can manage the serendipity of
your organization and find even better ways forward than you tried to project in
the beginning. Thanks very much for watching, if you want to have a look at
my blog, it’s on involvemetraining.com and you can follow me on Twitter
and LinkedIn as well, but for now, thanks for watching and take care out there

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