Wednesday, October 26, 2011

31 (More) Days of #BIF7 - Day 26 - Whitney Johnson

It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets, rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.

You look up from the two documents on your desk. One is a business plan, and the other is a resignation letter. You are anxious and diaphoretic. Totally afraid of making the wrong decision. Of failing.

As you acknowledge your fear of failure and let it sit for a while in your gut, you begin to calm down, and then, eventually, smile. Because, in the words of Whitney Johnson, "If it feels scary and lonely, you're probably on the right track."

During her BIF-7 talk, Whitney focused on disruption as a key trigger for personal transformation. Fittingly, her anchor quotes crystallized her points and recalled some of the other BIF speakers.

"If it feels scary and lonely, you're probably on the right track"
We work to build up financial stability and status, and eventually accrue dependents and responsibility. It takes courage to make a change, especially mid-career, but if we don't, the odds are high that we'll eventually stagnate. This point made me think of Angus Davis and his emphasis on embracing failure.

"Be assured that you have no idea what will come next"
Because disruption dislodges us from embedded roles, environments, and situational patterns, anything is possible. We can't predict with any reliability what will happen or who will figure prominently next in our life. In this context, ambiguity and uncertainty fuel innovation and personal growth. Here I recalled Mari Kuraish, who literally had no idea where her path would lead.

"Throw out the performance metrics you've always relied on"

Whitney cited Moneyball and mentioned that for 90% of successful ventures, the strategy that leads to success is not the strategy originally pursued. This brought to mind Dennis Littky who -- like the GM of the Oakland A's -- recast the methods of nurturing talent and growing value. 

"Your odds of success will improve when you pursue a disruptive course"
The differentiator here, as Whitney elaborated in her talk, is to disrupt in new versus established spaces. Alexander Osterwalder would no doubt agree, who achieved a business bestseller by finding a niche in book creation: collaborative authoring and publishing.

You can read Whitney's blog post that was the basis for her BIF-7 talk about disruption here: http://blogs.hbr.org/johnson/2011/08/disrupt-yourself.html


Additional information:
http://blogs.hbr.org/johnson/

Whitney Johnson on Twitter
@johnsonwhitney

BIF Profile Page
http://businessinnovationfactory.com/iss/innovators/whitney-johnson


This is part of my 31 (More) Days of #BIF7 blog series.

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