By Mike Jacoutot, Managing Partner
In 1999, I came across the following and it has had a profound impact on my business career:
"When Charles Darwin presented his theory of evolution in 1859, he described a world in which only the fittest survive, a world in which species must constantly adapt to their changing environment or face extinction, a world in which organisms must continue to grow in a profitable direction and develop new skills and traits or perish, a world in which life forms must look around and learn with whom to cooperate and whom to compete, a world in which the surrounding conditions for life can, suddenly and drastically, improve or take a turn for the worse. Darwin even wrote that we are all bound by a complex web of relations."¹
Written in 1859, and captured in the book Digital Darwinism (1999), this lexicon applies more today than ever. Why? Because this is about you!
You, the employee.
You, the stakeholder.
You, the boss.
You, the leader.
You, the parent.
Let’s break it down and take a minute for self-reflection:
“A world in which only the fittest survive, a world in which species must constantly adapt to their changing environment or face extinction”
If we take out the word species and replace it with employees or stakeholders it clearly puts the onus on each of us to adapt to the digital, participation and knowledge sharing age that we live in. The ability to adapt requires an ability to change. The ability to change, requires an ability to learn. Which brings me to the next key point….
“A world in which organisms must continue to grow in a profitable direction and develop new skills and traits or perish”
Let’s replace organism with employee. The fact is, from a learning perspective, we are either growing or we’re declining relative to the world and competition around us. There isn’t a third direction. We are now competing in a global economy, where competition is not only coming from down the road, it is coming from the Ukraine, India, China, etc. India and China have more honor students than we have students! India is now the largest English speaking country in the world. The world is now flat. Each of us must make continuous learning a top priority. The trick today is not getting an education, it is keeping one!
“A world in which life forms must look around and learn with whom to cooperate and whom to compete”
The old days of hoarding knowledge are gone. This is the age of knowledge sharing. Give and take. We will be best positioned if we surround ourselves with people who believe in the participation age of knowledge sharing. We need to put these people on our knowledge teams. Seek them out and align with them. Reciprocate.
“A world in which the surrounding conditions for life can, suddenly and drastically, improve or take a turn for the worse.”
The proliferation of the Internet 1995-2000. September 11, 2001. The Great Recession of 2008. We have seen a lot over the past twenty years. Significantly more than in the previous 20 years. Unemployment moved from a low of 4.3% in 2006 to a high of 10% in 2009 and has settled down to 6.2% today. How many middle managers that you know lost $100k a year jobs and were out of work for more than a year? I think if we try, we can all name at least one. The only way we can begin to be prepared for dramatic changes is to invest in our own personal development adopt a continuous learning mentality.
“Darwin even wrote that we are all bound by a complex web of relations.”
The Internet has leveled the playing field and has created the participation age and the personal brand. What is your personal brand? Are you viewed as a progressive, a continuous learner with personal brand of knowledge sharing? Or are you viewed as a laggard, someone who most likely won’t survive the next downsizing or economic downturn? The Internet is full of free learning opportunities if you are willing to invest the time.
It is challenging to invest in your own personal development, when you have a 150 emails and six meetings a day. We call that the whirlwind. It takes all of your energy just to keep your day job going. But therein lies the problem.
At Butler Street, we understand that employees are a company’s most important asset and believe it is a company’s responsibility to provide for a continuous learning environment. By leveraging everything from Onboarding & Training, to “Lunch & Learns” to Gamification to Learning Centers of Excellence—the great companies build a “system of reinforcing activities” to foster a continuous learning environment designed drive results. We can help. Click on the CONTACT button to learn more.
1- Digital Darwinism (1999) Evan I. Schwartz