How did the taxi industry miss Uber?
How did iTunes miss Spotify?
How did McDonald’s miss Millennial taste buds?
How come so many Boomers aren’t ready for retirement?
The glib answer is that they focused on “today” and ignored “tomorrow.” They spent too much time and energy dealing with Reaction Zone challenges. Reaction Zone? Read on.
In my critical and strategic thinking workshops we spend time discussing three zones that define our mental radar screens: the Reaction Zone, the Adaptation Zone, and the Anticipation Zone. We also discuss the value of inefficiency.
The Reaction Zone encompasses all of the problems and challenges associated with running life in the here and now. Look at your calendar and you see that you are reacting to others’ needs and wants -- client meetings, vendor problems, workforce issues, etc.
Adaptation Zone thinking addresses emerging and established trends. You have time to respond to them, but they will play out whether you act or not. iTunes is suffering from the shift in renting music versus buying music. No need to spend 99 cents for a single song when you can subscribe to Spotify and get as much as you want.
Anticipation Zone thinking recognizes isolated events on the horizon and attempts to connect these seemingly disparate dots. For example, connect these dots and think about the future of geriatric medicine: 23andMe (inexpensive genetic testing), Apple Watch, aging Boomers, driverless automobiles, personal GPS, and smaller families. My kids may watch over me, but not in the way I envision it today.
And now comes the challenge. Adaptation Zone and Anticipation Zone thinking require time to actually think. But, we have spent the last twenty years trying to make our companies “lean and mean.” Unfortunately, some have become lean and anorexic.
Sorry to say it, but thinking doesn’t look like work and we want our bosses to see us working. So we don’t think enough about the future even though we will spend the rest of our lives there.
I’m all in favor of a bit of “inefficiency” so that people can take the time to think.