“In the face of change, the competent are helpless.” – Seth Godin
Seth Godin, who always proves thought provoking to me, wrote this article in 1999 for Fast Company magazine. ( Change Agent – Issue 31 ). This was more than ten years ago and I think his argument made sense then and it makes sense now.
“Oh, there’s one other thing: As we’ve turned human beings into competent components of the giant network known as American business, we’ve also erected huge barriers to change.
In fact, competence is the enemy of change!
Competent people resist change. Why? Because change threatens to make them less competent. And competent people like being competent. That’s who they are, and sometimes that’s all they’ve got. No wonder they’re not in a hurry to rock the boat.”
People used to say that large, bureaucratic organizations were like slow moving dinosaurs. The argument went that this is why leaner, swifter companies were able to take business away from them – that, in essence, they could anticipate change and adapt to it at a much quicker pace. I still believe this. But I think what ultimately gives them the advantage to behave that way is the culture that fosters the ability to make mistakes, take risks, to in essence, be incompetent.
George Junginger is an entrepreneur and marketing professional who specializes in niche markets. He resides in Raleigh, NC and has worked extensively with Carolina Challenge and Startup Weekend’s around the country. You can follow him on Twitter @georgeju!