Is your organization Raising the Bar or crawling under the Bar of past successes? Some teams live by the records of others or the records of their history. However, great organizations pole-vault over the Bar of their past successes and continue raising the Bar as well as their goals. It is these Pole-Vaulting teams which set the pace that their followers will one day use as benchmarks.
Industries that are going through disruption must stop benchmarking themselves against the past. Doing so is equivalent to a game of Limbo, where you continuously lower the Bar until the Limbo player falls. Industries in disruption need to run from the so-called improvement-based benchmarking of the past and Pole-Vault themselves to reinvention. When an industry is heading toward obsolescence, the future is not about improving versus the past, but it's about reinvention to live in the future.
"Benchmarking is the start of the journey towards mediocrity."
With today's technology advances and the innovative disruptions they cause, organizations should be cautious when benchmarking against past successes on their journey toward their future. Those organizations who understand that the past was just the starting point will always jump over those who believe benchmarking "what was" will put them on track toward "what could be." During innovation and market disruptions, it’s not about what should be, but about what could be.
Too many organizations get focused on benchmarking against others instead of creating what that against which others will benchmark themselves. Benchmarking is about yesterday, and yesterday has no relevance during a market disruption. As industry innovators change the means to the customers’ desired outcomes, those who live and operate in the past will find themselves fighting for survival. Too many industries and organizations are fighting for survival instead of fighting for relevance.
Innovative companies understand that continuous improvement means never lowering the bar and never allowing yesterday to have the power over today or tomorrow. Continuous improvement has never come from teams who lower the bar.
Continuously improving teams are Pole-Vaulters.
If your industry is in decline and you believe the best practices of the past will help you reach a prosperous future, you are playing Limbo. If your industry is in decline and you find it easier to deny that fact than fight for future relevance, you are playing Limbo. If you are buying competitors in a declining market without a deliverable transformation plan, you are playing Limbo. If you are more comfortable attending reunions and cheering the past rather than collaborating with those who welcome the future, you are playing Limbo.
No one has the crystal ball. However, most have common sense, and most can see the writing on the wall during a product's or industry's march to obsolescence. Herein lies the advantage for the Pole-Vaulter. Those benchmarking themselves against the past will be playing a game of Limbo, where they will eventually fall and be crushed under the weight of the Bar of Status Quo. Go jump over them.
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