Culture Fear Ladder

If You’re Not Afraid, You’re Not Thinking Big Enough

In Culture, Digital Transformation, Innovation, Organizational Change by Matt Ridings11 Comments

{This post came about not because of clients, but because of a recent interaction with a product vendor in which their client needed our services, but they would only introduce us into their client if we would gloss over all the challenges of adopting their product until after their sales process was complete. This didn’t set well with me so the tone may be a bit stronger than usual}

We’re In The Wrong Room

When I ran a large consultancy in San Francisco there were certain warning signs when we were discussing an opportunity with a prospective customer. The biggest by far was seeing who we were competing against. On multiple occasions we had to tell the client:

“If we (the ‘competitor’ and us) are in the same room…then one of us is in the wrong room”

In other words, one of us was wasting our time because the level and type of services that we offered, pricing, etc. was not even close to being comparative. It’d be like measuring a Mac against a PC based simply upon processing power, memory, screen resolution, price, etc. One is still a Mac, one is still a PC and they are night and day apart.


That type of change, no matter how beneficial, should also scare the crap out of you.

Realistic Optimism

I’m optimistic by nature, but I like to think that I balance that with a heavy dose of realism.

I love the amazing opportunities available to organizations today, and I love helping those organizations bring them into fruition.

But the type of work we do often involves culture shift, change management, etc. to make organizations more effective.

While the benefits of making those changes (I would argue the survival imperative of doing so) is undisputed at this point there’s also another truth. That type of change, no matter how beneficial, should also scare the crap out of you.

So today’s warning signs for me when talking with prospects is when I find that they aren’t the slightest bit afraid.


Because if they aren’t afraid then one of two things is generally true:

  • They’re going through the motions but don’t really plan on implementing significant change
  • They don’t really understand the challenges/journey involved.

We’re more than happy to tackle the second item, we quite enjoy it actually, it’s why we offer workshops to cover virtually every area of concern and processes to mitigate the risks.

Maybe you will come out the other side of those workshops bleeding excitement countered side by side with a healthy dose of trepidation. Or maybe you will change your mind, but at least you’ll do it from a position of knowledge. As for that first item however, there’s not a lot we can do about that.


Destination vs The Journey

The vendors, the pundits, the motivational speakers, we all tend to focus on the positives of collaboration, social business, digital transformation, responsive organizations, or whatever name you’d like to apply to it for obvious reasons. We want you to understand the benefits, after all to one degree or another that’s what we’re selling right?

But make no mistake that that’s when we’re talking about outcomes and not the actual process or journey of achieving those outcomes.

XVA Labs deals with the heavy-lifting of the process side of that world, of defining and then getting you from point A to point B. That process is scary in the beginning. Don’t feel bad, it’s supposed to be.

Fear is a good thing, it’s almost universally true that ‘the larger the opportunity the larger the challenge’.

We have systems, processes, methodologies, frameworks, workshops, education programs…you name it…all in the name of minimizing the risk and therefore the fear.

But we don’t pull punches, and we don’t hide the challenges from you until after it’s too late for you to turn around. Because…

If you’re not a little afraid, and the other vendor in the room is telling you you shouldn’t be, then either ‘one of us is in the wrong room’ or you’re not thinking big enough.
Matt Ridings – @techguerilla
Photo Credit: hang_in_there

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