Speed. Change. Time. LO10030

Benjamin Compton (bcompton@geocities.com)
Tue, 17 Sep 1996 17:39:06 -0700

Over the last month or so there have been a number of messages about
things I find particularly interesting: fast-paced industries, the
dynamics of change (perhaps the word should be transformation), and

I'm now in the process of writing a book about these and other issues.
What follows is a summary of that book. The summary will be on my
homepage (replacing whatever is there now) within a day or two -- which
means as soon as I get of my duff and just do it.

Deep Fried Ice Cubes
by Ben Compton


Speed. Change. Time. Three simple words, each with one syllable.
Amazingly, these three simple words are transforming the way we conduct
business. Today, companies are operating at an extremely fast pace. From
Federal Express's 24 hour package delivery to instant cash withdrawals
from ATM machines, customers expect speed and convenience. Nothing short
of this will do.


Speed is no longer a competitive advantage. It is essential in achieving
competitive parity. Responding quickly to new market conditions is
insufficient; anticipating new market conditions is insufficient.
Companies must now create market conditions to stay in business and
remain financially healthy.

The transition from the 20th century to the 21st century is a dizzying
time. The knowledge and wisdom that gave birth to the industrial age is
fast becoming meaningless. We stand at the portal of an era we do not
understand. We've become a knowledge society. We don't know how to act
because we've never been here before. History leaves us virtually
helpless. The Gutenberg printing press began a societal transformation,
but it has been a transformation that has taken centuries to fully
blossom. Today cultural and societal transformations occur within a
decade, and sometimes faster.


As we move toward the 21st century, companies need to accept the fact
that within three to four years -- if not sooner -- the knowledge and
skills that created their success will be outdated. Such a realization
impacts, in a very fundamental way, how we think about who we are as
individuals and as organizations. The strategy of incremental
improvement through Total Quality is no longer adequate. The new secret
of success is radical, instantaneous change. Such fast-paced change is
created from our capacity to constantly learn, innovate, create, and
realize entirely new ways of living and working.


Technology has revolutionized our concept of time. It has brought about
a strange and ubiquitous phenomenon: accelerated acceleration. Some have
come to call it Internet Time. As our concept of time changes, companies
are forced to compete at a much faster pace. The key to competitiveness
in such an environment is discontinuous improvement.

Discontinuous improvement is defined as instantaneous, and sometimes
unanticipated, change. Such change may occur in any of the following
areas of an organization: culture, systems, work habits, technology, and

How do companies move from continuous improvement to discontinuous
improvement? Deep Fried Ice Cubes discusses, in practical terms, how to
engage in discontinuous improvement. As we make the transition we need
to recognize the following:

* Business is primarily a philosophical activity. The numerical analysis
that is so common in modern business is nothing more than an attempt to
justify or verify the business philosophy. Discontinuous improvement
simply doesn't provide the performance records needed to perform
meaningful statistical and financial analysis.

* Intuition should be the primary source for the organization's business
philosophy. Numerical analysis should complement, but not replace, that

* Discontinuous improvement comes from people thinking deeply about
their business. It is not a product of frenzied and irrational thought.

* Companies primarily exist for two reasons: 1) To create profits, and
2) to allow people to discover, express, and explore their inherent

* Shared vision is central to creating a unified organization that is
capable of deliberately creating discontinuous improvement.

* Relationships are more important than technology. To engage in
discontinuous change their must be unity within the organization. People
must feel a deep sense of togetherness, interdependence, and common

* Continual learning must be a way of life both for individuals and for
the entire organization. The theories, tools, and methods of a Learning
Organization must be pervasive.


Benjamin Compton <bcompton@geocities.com>

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>