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Nov 30, 201712:08 PMOpen Mic

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5 reasons why your ‘old-school industry’ needs to care about a culture of innovation

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Disrupt, innovate, and do your dishes

Depending on what research you look at, the average lifespan of a company is less than 20 years, down from 60 years in the 1950s. Richard Foster of Yale claims the lifespan is only 15 years today, and that in less than 10 years three-quarters of the existing S&P 500 firms will be replaced by new firms. In talking with hundreds of organizations during our research for ThirdSpace, I found that many companies had innovation labs or teams, but failed to see the results. They could talk the talk but couldn’t walk the walk. It’s ironic because someone at some point in time took a risk to start that company. Someone once gave every ounce of willpower — maybe even mortgaging their home or going bankrupt — to start that company. They need to recover that feeling, ambition, and hustle. It’s no wonder why startups pop up and wipe other companies off the planet. They are right in this stage of “ultimate innovation” and have that hustle and determination to succeed.

Culture is a part your organization whether you guide it or let it foster on its own. It reminds me of the pile of dishes that sometimes sit in my sink. I love to cook and with that comes dirty dishes. It’s inevitable — I have to do the dishes. If I wash the dishes, things in my kitchen start to clear up. If I do nothing, they are still there lingering around, but it’s just dirty and gross and, quite frankly, I’m a neat freak so it disgusts me. This is the same with culture. Whether I do nothing about my culture or if I choose to actively take a stand, culture is there. Just because someone is in an old-school industry doesn’t change that fact. If you don’t invest in your people, they won’t innovate. If there is no innovation, there will be no company.

I realize this is a huge challenge to tackle, but it needs to start with someone or some organization, somewhere. If you are reading this blog, you think of yourself as residing in an old-school industry, and you don’t like that fact, be the change. Disruption should not be viewed as a threat. There is even a worldwide organization dedicated to disruption. It helps organizations and industries transform. Disrupt your organization. Disrupt your industry. Pave the way for future generations to come and enjoy the meaningful work that they do.

Zach Blumenfeld, is co-founder/COO of ThirdSpace, a Madison-based startup developing online tools to improve employee engagement. He is also the founder/executive director of CultureCon, a conference with a mission to impact the workplace by spreading positive change around organizational culture. He can reached on Twitter at @ZachBlum or by searching his name on LinkedIn.

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