Are You a Solution in Search of a Problem?

When all you have is a hammer - as the saying goes – the temptation is to see every problem as a nail.

That works just fine when the problem really is a nail, but can turn out badly if the problem is an egg or a bone china teacup.

Right now across the economy and society there are a lot of eggs being smashed by those who struggle to adapt to new thinking, new technology and new business models.

Across the world taxi drivers are protesting against the encroachment of Uber, the ride sharing, taxi and limo service which has gone from start-up to $50 billion global company in 6 years. Essentially their weapon of choice is to call on the hammer of government to outlaw Uber, or at least hobble it with regulation so as to render it less competitive.

Finding another tool, such as competing with Uber on service quality, value for money and reliability seems beyond their current thinking; at least it has been in Australia up until now.

Similarly across the retail, media and music industries, initial disruptive moves were met with the response of hammering harder and faster, rather than looking for new ways to compete and give value to customers. Fundamental questions were not asked; why do we exist? who do we serve? what value do we provide? to list a few.

If disruption is truly the new normal, then as individuals and businesses we need to have more than just a hammer in our toolbox. We need to be prepared to adapt our thinking and acquire new skills and perspectives on a continuous basis. We have to recognise that it is resistance to change, not technology that causes disruption; technology helps break through that resistance, making possible the changes that many people want to see happen.

Rather than fighting a battle which is already lost, we can choose to play a part in the exciting world that is being created; a world where there are unlimited opportunities for those who can see possibilities instead of threats, and who take nothing for granted. In this world, the customer rules and their actual problems (such as want of a clean, reliable, safe and fair value taxi service) are the ones we will seek to solve, and not merely those that suit us.

So what is the Uber for your industry? If it hasn’t already happened it soon will; when it does, will you still be banging away with a hammer or looking to find new and better ways to help your customer?