There are two tricks to successfully navigating monkey bars. First, let go before you reach out. Second, don’t stop: it’s easier to get from one end to the other if you build the forward momentum and just keep going, rather than pausing after every move.
I wish I’d understood those two rules when I was a child. Instead, I used to climb up to the monkey bars and simply hang there for 20 seconds or so before dropping to the ground. I can’t actually think of a time when I made it from one end to the other.
The monkey bar rules also apply to business development and growth.
Let go before you reach out. The most successful companies are those that are willing to reinvent and forego past wins, rather than holding onto yesterday’s success. Blackberry’s reluctance to let go of its phones’ physical keyboards and its proprietary operating system enabled Apple and Samsung to overtake the company by launching a series of ever-improving, more attractive handsets. As a result, the Blackberry device no longer exists. The company’s poor performance forced it, finally, to let go, and it has now reached out to become a – far smaller and less profitable – cyber-security business.
Don’t stop. Successful innovation is an ongoing process, not a one-off event. The iPhone caused a massive stir when it first launched, but it was the iPhone 3G and iPhone 4 that catapulted its share to the #1 position. Overall, 33 iPhone models have been produced to date, and Apple have sold over 2 billion handsets.
At some point, though, Apple will need to let go of the iPhone before reaching out again. Technological and/or consumer-driven changes will demand it.
Where does your business need to let go so that it can reach out? And how can you best ensure that, once it’s moving forward, you just don’t stop?
Off The Record: Reach Out, I’ll Be There by The Four Tops
Written by Brian Holland and Lamont Dozier
And you feel the world has grown cold
And you’re drifting out all on your own
And you need a hand to hold
Darling, reach out
Come on girl, reach out for me
Reach out, reach out for me
I’ll be there, to love and comfort you