Speaker | Entrepreneur | Author

Sam Davidson's blog

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Time Flies

Check out this remarkable fact:

A boy who saw the Wright Brothers fly for a few seconds at Kitty Hawk could have watched Apollo 11 land on the moon in 1969.
-Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., The Cycles of American History

What does this means for someone:

  • Who was a boy when Toyota made its Prius?
  • Who was a girl when MySpace was sold?
  • Who was a teenager when the iPhone was released?
  • Who was in grade school when the Mars rover landed?

In just 58 short years, we went from 12 seconds of sustained flight to landing on the moon. What will the Internet look like in half a century? What will become of cell phones in 58 more years? How will we get around in 2065?

What will your organization look like then?

While these questions may be good for no more than the occasional day dream, the rate of change is speeding up more and more quickly. The good news is that your organization doesn't need to change all at once. But it does need to be improving.

The mistake many businesses and nonprofits make is in trying to maintain themselves. They want to be around in 100 years for all the positive reasons that come from longevity. So, they plan and strategize, but they mostly stay the same, thinking that current success is the best predictor of future results.

Unfortunately, what ends up happening is that by staying the same, instead of guaranteeing they'll be around in 58 years, they only guarantee that they won't be around for 58 years.

The organizations that will be around for the long haul will be those that revamp and retool, that rethink and redesign. That's what Apple's been willing to do. That's not what GM's been willing to do.

So, if you're remarkable today, the only way you can have a shot at being remarkable in 20 years is to be remarkable in 5. And to do that, given today's speed of growth, you've got to get improving and innovating.

If you think you're guaranteeing your longevity by not improving, you're doing exactly the opposite.