"Playing it safe has become very risky," says author Josh Linkner. Sustaining your success is not based upon relying on your current success. It is rooted in your ability to reinvent. Linkner, best-selling author of The Road to Reinvention and venture capital CEO, lets executives in on the secrets to reinvent their businesses continuously. In this interview with Soundview, he discusses why playing it safe is the
biggest risk you can take, why you need to put yourself out of business before someone else does and how to find and replace "cannonballs" that might be sinking your company.
Soundview: Why is playing it safe the biggest risk of all?
Josh Linkner: What happens is that many successful people fall into the success trap. The trap is they believe success is a permanent condition as if you've arrived and you'll always be there. The reality is that success happens in the context of many external factors. Today, those
factors are changing at a rate like none other in history. What happens is that if we believe that we've arrived and simply cling to the previous ideas, maintain the status quo and expect the same level of success, we're only kidding ourselves and setting ourselves up for disaster. The companies and
the individuals that sustain success over time are the ones that reinvent early and often.
Soundview: How and why should one move toward planned obsolescence?
Linkner: I'd argue that someday a company is going to come and put you out of business so it might as well be you. We have the opportunity to be the disruptor rather than be disrupted. Many people fear the concept of cannibalization. A much more productive approach would be to be
the cannibal. In other words, proactively be the source of destructive change. I would encourage all of us to in fact be the cannibal and put ourselves out of business both as an organization and as a person.
Soundview: Can you define "cannonball" and explain how to deal with them in an organization?
Linkner: Today in the United States military, there are three people required to fire a cannonball. There's one person that holds the cannon, one person that puts the cannonball in the cannon and one person that stands there. Originally, that third person was designed to hold the
horse because you'd have to have a horse drag the cannon up to the top of a hill. If you fired the cannon and the horse wasn't held, the horse would spook and run away. There's a person that stands there when firing a cannon that does absolutely nothing because of an old code. The term cannonball
is a system or way of doing business that made the sense in the past but is irrelevant today. I encourage people to look for those cannonballs inside their own organizations.