Tuesday 23 December 2003

Opportunities for irrelevance abound

Your rank in the Army of Relevance, Sir!
One being a collector of quotations, it is easy to recite and regurgitate quotations without finding out more about the particular persons and circumstances that lead to those gems of human wisdom and intellect encapsulated in words.
In fact, a quotation is a phrase or sentence of relevance. Relevance is a beacon; it stands out from the other group of words that give it a context to exist.
One's reference to the army stems from the time one has spent thinking of Gen. Eric Shinseki's very notable quotation.
"If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less"
One has paraphrased this to "They who hate change would hate irrelevance even more" - Every aspect of one's life has to experience a concept of evolution or irrelevance sets in - Irrelevance = Extinction. There is no time friend to be an endangered species; the endangerment was there when you ignored the trends of change.
The recruitment drills of entering the Army breaks down the individual and develops the team based on trust, enforced by authority, nurtured by respect, rewarded by promotion, reckoned by discharge and sanctioned by expulsion.
Discipline governs the ability to remain relevant in the Army and that lack of it brings sanctions that could lead to expulsion if there is no means of reprove that can convince authority of your further relevance to the Army.
Jesus identified that understanding of authority as the highest form of faith when the centurion in asking Jesus to heal his servant by speaking the words.
The Centurion reckoned himself a man who had authority by being answerable to his superiors, respectful of his peers and leading his subordinates. In that station, he was an example to all around him.
How to become irrelevant
What appears below may sound ironic; however, the full appreciation of the knowledge of anything is, knowing what it is and knowing what it is not.
Change what you cannot and leave what you can.
You read that right. There are we cannot change and things we can.
  • There are people younger and smarter than you are, you cannot change your age, but you can get smart.
  • These younger people will come up with the strangest and seemingly weird ideas, you may not be as radical, but your wealth of experience can help in making those ideas practical.
  • Your organisation may be changing to make your circumstances untenable, but you can change your circumstances for the better without having to rely on your organisation.
  • You may have been there long enough to have the delusion of being indispensable, however, if you keeled over now, after two weeks, someone better and smarter would replace you.
  • What you know in terms of experience may not be valuable, but understanding how to adapt that experience to trends is most invaluable.
Be persuasive in peace but invincible at war.
Another of General Shinseki's quotes
The theory of evolution has moved on, it is no more the survival of the fittest, but the ascendancy of the smartest. The species would not change into anything other than the humans - homo sapiens sapiens - that they are. There is no point having two heads, four hands, six legs and eight reproductive organs, that type of fitness is redundant.
The greatest resource available to man is their intellectual capital - ideas, dreams, vision turned into the reality that changes humankind for the better.
New and Improved is OUT - Radical and Groundbreaking is IN.
I do not want more of the same I want something different. Enough of the tremors in office politics, what we want are earthquakes.
Radically uproot it all and build it somewhere else. Only smart buildings survive earthquakes, not mammoth edifices.
Finally, whatever game is played in the quest to remain relevant, be principled, honest, trustworthy and reliable. Those unimpeachable qualities endure after the smoke has cleared up. Those were characteristics lacking in the leaderships of Enron, Andersen, WorldCom and many more failed organisations in their heyday.
Postscript references
Tom's 60 TIBs - It's a PowerPoint

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