Corporate Anti-bodies

Today’s world is full of disruptive technologies and the old ways of doing things are rapidly being replaced.

Change is nothing new; what is new is the speed at which it is occurring.  I remember when synthesizers burst onto the scene in the 70’s, musicians were deathly afraid that live music was going to die.  Thankfully musicians were not replaced by robots, but many other industries have been fundamentally changed, or have even disappeared completely.

In each case there were companies that saw the future and embraced it leaving the companies that were too slow to adapt withering on the vine.  A few recent examples include:

  • Music distribution – iTunes is by far the biggest music retailer.
  • Manufacturing – Outsourced
  • Programming – Outsourced
  • Books – e-books now outsell print books on Amazon
  • Video & DVD rental – Streaming will eventually replace DVDs.

In each of the above examples companies buried their figurative heads in the sand and refused to believe what was happening until it was too late.  Blockbuster, Borders, and Tower Records were all household names in the U.S. and have all disappeared in just a few short years.

How did companies that had such huge market domination disappear almost overnight?

The answer: Corporate Anti-bodies.

Corporate anti-bodies are people who actively work against a new order of things.  There are many reasons why people do this:  fear of the unknown, unwillingness to take risks, lack of desire or ability to learn something new.

This is not a new phenomenon.  Machiavelli wrote about this in his famous book The Prince when he said “It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new.”  Amazingly that was written over 500 years ago!

Two of the most common reasons ideas are attacked are:

1. “It wasn’t invented here.”

In these cases “not here” can mean the idea is coming from outside the company, or even from a new or different group within the company.  Hitler was famous for not wanting to copy the technology of his enemies, often failing to take advantage of new innovations in the process.  And thank goodness!

2. “We have already spent too much money on the old ways of doing things.”

Amazingly this is often seen as a perfectly legitimate excuse not to adopt something that is better and cheaper.  In this case the concern is that people are going to look foolish for investing in the current system, but no-one seems to feel foolish for throwing good money after bad.

The pace of change isn’t going slow, so if your new ideas are going to survive you need to find ways to get the corporate anti-bodies on your side.  After all, anti-bodies exist for a reason…

How?

One way is to look for ways to include people who might become anti-bodies in your new idea.  Many times these people are the ones that have been in the company for many years.  Use their expertise and knowledge of how to navigate the corporate mine fields, or provide access to resources that are only available through back doors – then you can make them part of the solution.  Once you have them on your side, they can do the job that anti-bodies are meant to do and actually protect YOU from invaders. 

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2 Comments

Filed under Career, Life - or something like it, The Human Condition

2 responses to “Corporate Anti-bodies

  1. Pingback: Will Replicators Kill Cheap Offshore Manufacturing? | Houldsworth's Random Ramblings

  2. Pingback: Will Replicators Kill Cheap Offshore Manufacturing? | Houldsworth's Random Ramblings

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