General Stanley McChrystal, US Army (retired) in “Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World”
Ready for a scary fact? In the book, which, by the way, is a great read, McChrystal points out that only 13.4 percent of the 2011 Fortune 500 firms existed in 1955. Why? They couldn’t keep up. They couldn’t adapt. Their data told them about a world that was disappearing, about markets that were obsolete.
We compete in markets and “ecosystems” today that are not only different than we’ve even encountered but over which we have little, if any control.
So, adaptability becomes the key.
I am reminded of a meeting with a mentor of mine, preparing for one of those “do or die” client meetings. “I keep asking your guys for information, Heston,” he said, “and all they want to give me is data.”
There’s a difference between the two, and if our goal is to adapt, to win in a game in which rules are changing by the minute, we must be careful to not rely on data at the expense of the insights it should help us build.
Data + intelligence x (experience and insight) = adaptability.
Getting the ratios right requires a tolerance for errors and risk that might be outside our comfort zones — but at the risk of being disappointed or obsolete, we might want to get comfortable — quickly.