by Kaihan Krippendorff
In 1968, at the Summer Olympics in Mexico City, Dick Fosbury jumped over the high bar backward. Until that day, every other high-bar competitor had jumped over using some kind of forward technique. Fosbury won the gold medal. Eight years later, 90% of high jumpers were deploying his "Fosbury Flop."
Two questions about this case have driven my professional career:
Why didn't anyone try going over backward before 1968?
Why did it take eight years for the competition to copy?
Think about it. There was no new breakthrough in technology that suddenly made jumping over the high bar backward possible. It could technically have been done four years prior (or eight or twelve or sixteen). Similarly, there’s nothing technically that would have prevented the competition from copying Fosbury en masse at the 1972 Summer Olympics, and yet the competition waited eight years.
Answering these questions is not only interesting, it’s critical. If we want to inspire our organizations or clients to more quickly embrace what advances in ITSM technology, or any technology, make possible, we must probe the cause of this lag.
I believe the answer to both questions is simple: for behavior to change—for people to realize the potential of new technologies—they must first name and adopt emerging concepts. Fosbury's approach was not embraced until it was named the "Fosbury Flop." Similarly, software as a service, introduced as early as 1999, didn’t really take off until it was renamed “SaaS” (or "the cloud").
What restrains innovation isn’t the pace of technological advancement as much as the speed at which the new concepts around the technology are adopted. We see this as the driving factor shaping innovation in every domain. In business, we had trouble explaining why fast-growing businesses burned up cash until the root cause was named ("inventory turns"). In mathematics, we had trouble explaining waves until Indian astronomers introduced the sine function around 400 AD.
So, I have spent the last twelve years studying how concepts of business strategy emerge. I’ve found that companies that adopt the next set of emerging concepts win. Those who hold onto old concepts fall behind. This insight explains the rise and fall of most great companies, from Amazon and Google to Xerox and Kodak.
If you can accurately identify emerging strategic concepts, and if you can get your organization to embrace them, you have a chance to thrive beyond the next horizon.
During my keynote at FUSION 16, I’m going to share the five strategic concepts you want to embrace today. These are the ones that my research shows are being embraced by companies that are winning in the fast-paced, digital, purpose-driven future into which organizations, across geographies and industries, are entering. These are the concepts that today’s leading companies—Uber, Apple, Netflix—are using to take advantage of the mind-spinning array of new technologies available, and thereby outmaneuvering their competition. You’ll get a chance to apply each of these concepts to generate ideas to help your organization step into the future. The five concepts (which I call “the Outthinker playbook”) are:
Moving early to the next battleground (rather than trying to win today’s)
Coordinating the uncoordinated (rather than trying to control it)
Creating two-front battles (rather than focusing on one)
Being good (rather than pursuing profits as a path to good)
Creating something out of nothing (rather than playing with pieces on the board)
It will be thrilling to get to engage in a conversation with technologists shaping not only the future of IT, but the future for all. I look forward to seeing you in Las Vegas!
Kaihan Krippendorff is a keynote speaker at the FUSION 16 conference.