I Can Guarantee Something That Will Never Ever Change And It’s Where To Find All The Opportunities.

There’s an old business story about a cookie factory owner.

Cookie

His company was making millions of cookies and was very profitable.  However, his board was always asking for more profits.

One day the cookie factory owner thought of a great idea!  “What if we got rid of 1 of the 13 spices we put in the cookie?  No one will probably realise and our expenses will go down!”.

He tried it out and got rid of one of the ingredients.  None of his customers realised and the boards profits and margins improved!

He went on to have another idea: “Well, no one realised that the cookie now only uses 12 spices.  Why don’t we get rid of another spice?”.

This went on for a while and at some point his cookie sales started to dwindle.  People just weren’t interested any more.  The cookie owner tried to recover, but his brand was permanently tarnished and due to the new way the cookies were being manufactured the business didn’t recover and he went out of business.

Here’s the thing.  Often things change, but really slowly.  Each small increment of change is not noticeable, but at some point when you stand back and observe, you’ll notice that the landscape has drastically changed.

The one thing I can guarantee will never change, is that everything will change.

When things change, new opportunities arise.  But the places where change occurs the most is at “the edges”, not the mainstream.

The mainstream ends up following “the edges”.

Donald Trump & Brexit

I have a confession to make.  I didn’t follow Donald Trump’s election campaign throughout 2016, which lead to his election in 2017.

I remember waking up in the morning when it was announced that he had won.  I didn’t think anything of it, but when I got to work there seemed to be some kind of mass hysteria which had overtaken everyone.  My disinterest has continued since his election and my life hasn’t changed in any way since before he was elected.

I have another confession to make.  I didn’t follow anything to do with Brexit, which resulted in the United Kingdom announcing that they would leave the European Union.  Once again, since Brexit has been announced, my life has not changed in any way.

Now, what I’m not saying is that these two events don’t matter, will never have an impact on me and on others.  But my observation is that both of these events were unpredictable and unexpected.

Election campaigns are like “The Edge” of a given field.

“The Edge”, as I define it is the place where change is rapid, where present data does not correlate with outcomes and where if you play your cards right you can gain massively from disorder by creating and innovating.

The reason why there was and is mass hysteria surrounding Trump’s election and around Brexit is because the mass population is not used to “The Edge”.  The mainstream lives in a world where change is slow, where change makes some kind of sense, where change happens to you.  

The Edge

When things hit the mainstream, the opportunities you get exposed to will be incremental in nature.

When you get to “The Edge”, opportunities aren’t incremental, they aren’t even exponential, they’re of a whole new category.

Think of a couple of the current buzzwords in the medical world at the moment: “automation” and “robotics”.

You’ll get visions of futuristic robots with lasers carrying out the work of surgeons.

ironman

I will use always every opportunity I have to stick in an Iron Man jpg into my blog posts.

To the mainstream surgeons – the typical surgeon working in small general hospitals – robotics and automation seems like several decades away, or it may be that they think robotics will never hit the mainstream.

And this is the point of this essay once again:

The one thing I can guarantee that will never change, is that everything will change.  And when change happens the people who were the main players at “The Edge” win.

Say for example that you were doing “mainstream” open heart surgery in the early 2000’s.  By the early 2000’s heart surgery was already kind of figured out.  Any further improvements since then have been incremental in nature.

“The Edge”, at this time was actually the move to minimally invasive surgery.  This is where you can operate on the heart by creating a tiny incision on a patients thigh and then introducing some instruments into the main blood vessels of the leg.  These instruments are then navigated towards the heart where you can carry out procedures such as angioplasties and valve replacement procedures.

The minimally invasive techniques have a faster recovery rate, are cheaper and increasingly have better outcomes in every respect in comparison to open heart surgery.

Being at “The Edge” at the time when minimally invasive surgery was being developed would have provided all the opportunities that people often look for – it would have allowed the innovators to have their say on how to perform procedures, to pioneer new techniques, to develop new instruments and tools which you could build a new business around etc.

Yes, “The Edge” may sound crazy, it may be exclusive, the odds of a lot of new technologies causing a dent in the world may be random or low, but nonetheless it is still where change occurs and where opportunities live.

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Trump & Brexit

The purpose of this blog is not to espouse any kind of ideology.  I just like to talk about ideas and document my random thoughts and insights.  So, although this post talks about some recent political events – it is not passing judgement on what people believe in or vote for.

(I kind of hate writing blog posts that need a disclaimer at the beginning, but I do want to keep this blog authentic and sometimes I may upset people when I do!  Sorry in advance!)

So, my random insight for the day is:

The reason people give for voting the way they do is a reflection of how much power they believe that the organisation / political party that they are voting for has.  

Looking at things through this prism shows that people are actually very logical and that there are very clear reasons people vote the way they do.

Recently in the political world there have been two major events that people are always talking about.  The first is Donald Trump being elected President of the greatest country in the world (yes, I honestly believe the USA is the best country in the world even though I’ve spent the majority of my life in England) and the way that the British public voted to leave the EU (aka Brexit).

It seems to me that these two events seem to be dealing with similar issues.

A vote for Donald Trump or Brexit represented more jobs for the public, better pay and conditions, less immigration and therefore more resources becoming available to the public.

Trump & Brexit

The question in my mind is whether President Trump or the Conservative Party in the UK actually have the power to act on these promises (let alone deliver).

To put this into perspective if you work in an organisation and the members of the board hold a vote where their employees could vote for more money, better conditions and less immigrants being employed, could the board deliver on this even if they really wanted to.  Probably not because the organisation is not a self contained entity.  It’s a small entity in a complex world with rules, laws and regulations.

This isn’t a blog post about globalisation per se – although this is one of the reasons the promises made by President Trump and The Conservatives may never be delivered, but it’s about the observation that the public generally believe that political parties have a lot more power then they actually do.

There is a tendency by the general public to blame the government whenever something goes wrong.  There is a lot that the government can do and a lot of blame can and should be placed on different governments.  But, the Government is the only institution that the general population can change with a simple vote.  This is the exact reason why so much anger and fear is directed towards governments – because they are visible to people who vote.  What isn’t visible to people are a lot of the strings attached to Governments – international pressure, powerful individuals, large corporations, international security etc that people can’t change with a vote.

When looking at things this way it’s interesting listening to why people voted  for and against Brexit.

People who voted for Brexit wanted more jobs (more jobs for working class people), more money, more public services (less immigrants = more resources) and more opportunities (more free places in schools and more jobs available in the market place).

People who voted against Brexit wanted more jobs (more trade = more money), more money, more public services (more wealth = more taxes = more public services) and more opportunities (millennials say their career options have been stifled due to the imminent restrictions on free movement through the EU for British people).

If the people who voted leave and remain for Brexit, voted for pretty much the same things, could it be that they voted for something which no government has control over?  I think so.  The world is changing at an incredibly fast pace in the same way it did during the Industrial Revolution due to the Industrial Revolution of today (aka a Technological Revolution in combination with globalisation, the growth of small businesses and the destruction of unions).

A vote for a change in government isn’t going to change – in contrary to what a lot of people believe – the tectonic shift that the world is going through today.

Regulations

I find it really interesting how rules and regulations often stop people from doing important work.  Everyone knows how it often stands in the way of justice, of positive change and innovation.

Looking at countries instead of organisations is an interesting thought experiment.  The countries which have the longest democratic history are the countries with the most rules and regulations.  Why?  Because they’ve existed for the longest.  The longer they exist for, the more rules and regulations become codified and enforced.

The same is true of organisations.  The NHS is a really good example of this.  As a startup founder working in the NHS I have had first hand experience of this.  There are layers and layers of management* and bureaucracy.  The NHS is a very old organisation, deals with very sensitive information and is also a political tool.  Is it any wonder that it has so many rules and regulations?

I suppose the interesting question is; Can it change?

I don’t think it can.

Larry Page, who clearly takes innovation and change seriously, has previously talked about how as Google got bigger they started to worry about innovation slowing down at the organisation.  He started wondering if he could get rid of some of the rules and regulations in place that had come in to place as the organisation grew.  He realised he couldn’t significantly do it because Google are in practically every country around the world, have tens of thousands of employees and that there needs to be a lot rules and regulations in place at this point in time (Google however are a very clever organisation and they have systems and organisational tools in place to ensure that they always remain innovative despite the regulations in place).  It does seem inevitable that as countries and organisations age that the rules and regulations will continue to get bigger and bigger.

As a side note – one suggestion Larry did mention was that it would be interesting to take out an old regulation every time a new regulation is put in place to circumvent too much stifling.  I noted today that Donald Trump is actually going to make this a policy in America.  It will be very interesting to see what happens with regards to this and whether other countries and organisations will follow suit, as it is a very good idea.

The part about regulations is at 1.30

*Some people say that the NHS isn’t over managed as compared to other organisations we have a reasonable number of managers per thousand employees in comparison to other organisations.  However, it isn’t the number of managers in the NHS which is the problem.  It is the way that the organisation is structured and the role they play in the organisation which is the problem.