Creative Destruction – Are You the Victor or Victim?

Creative destruction is a phenomenon whereby old skills, companies, and sometimes entire industries are pruned or eliminated as new methods and businesses take their place.

Have you ever met a livery yard manager, a blacksmith, or the owner of a buggy whip company?

In the early 1900’s, these positions were commonplace.  Today, they are almost impossible to find.

Creative destruction was responsible for the elimination of such jobs and businesses.

Creative destruction is seen in layoffs, downsizing, and obsolescence that on the surface appears negative and can have a heartrending economic impact on many people.

But imagine if this phenomenon was able to be prevented.

Imagine for a moment that the federal government established a policy to protect every business from failing and every profession from being eliminated.

In other words, the government would bailout every job or business that was threatened with problems, changes, or extinction similar to our recent banking bailout.  If this “fix” was in existence, we would be “up to our eyeballs” in blacksmiths and buggy whip companies that had no clients to service.

HR POINTER: Just as the introduction of the Model T in 1908 marked the beginning of the end of the professions and industries noted above, we need to be aware of the current trends that may threaten our professions and businesses.

The lesson of the blacksmiths and buggy whip companies is that they needed to adapt or step aside to make way for new ventures.

The blacksmiths that diversified their businesses from iron horseshoes into metal objects such as screws or hinges became the victors who saw the changes coming and adapted accordingly.

The blacksmiths who were the victims saw the change coming and stayed the course, hoping against hope that the “iron horses” were just a fad.

In what ways do we need to adapt in order to avoid being the last farrier holding on to a dying profession as the world trades in its horses for cars?

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