1914: Europe Goes To War
tells the story of the clash of modern war technology
(machine gun) meets the warfare of the previous century, cavalry
charges, colorful (target) uniforms, and the ego, misinformation,
stupidity, and ego that commanders could have when battles took
months to set up, and soldiers could have a whole career without
having to face an enemy.
As the war to end all wars began, the
commanders couldn’t understand what was happening to them.
Reminds me of the story of the broke
down old fighter, who, when he went to his corner between rounds, his
trainer said, “Keep it up, champ. This palooka can’t lay a hand
To which the boxer replied, “Then
watch the ref closely. Somebody’s beating the heck out of me.”
Those WWI generals not could comprehend
what was happening to them, their losses, that their professional
beliefs no longer had any value. Everything they knew was no longer
true, and following their cherished (and unrealistic) worldview they
had started the bloodiest war in the history of the world.
So they executed seven year old kids,
shot their own troops, anything to feel like they had some control
over what was happening around them. It took some time for the next
generation of commanders to get an understanding of what was
happening and figure out how to respond.
The understanding and then inventing
new solutions took place while thousands of soldiers and horses were
being killed each week.
Reading the book, I realized that the
Internet is our machine gun. It has completely changed how work is
I was talking to a thirty year client
in Northern California who has recently started his blog and is
pleasantly surprised by the results. He wondered if I would be
available to talk to him on the phone. I suggest a Hangout
video-conference, since he has Gmail. and started to explain what it
He was quite familiar as he works with
a client in Thailand and they do their communication with Hangouts.
Just like machine guns changed the
uniforms, the staging, the management, technology, and leadership of
war, the Internet is changing what makes a viable organization, how
we accomplish work.
That client (an Aikido Master), has
video conferences across half the globe. Value is no longer in touch,
in showing, in throwing, but doing other things to create similar
results with more people across a global footprint.
People in charge used to be able to
say, “Take a number and wait...we’ll get to you as soon as we
Google and Amazon changed that
You want information? The hardest part
is figuring the right question to ask. The answer is instantaneous.
That’s the new baseline, what people expect. You’re not set up to
provide that? Your successor will.
You want to buy a solution? You teach
yourself what you want by looking at the results offered. I have a
story about that.
Several years ago we took our condo
down to the bare walls and rebuilt. New floor plan, tripled the
electric service, community steam room, and a host of other
The woman I love said she wanted her
first flat screen TV to be white, to match her white walls.
After we were flimflammed at Best Buy,
I sat for three hours, with a laptop in my lap in a cold basement
communing with Amazon. I learned the right size of the TV for the
size of the room, the best way to hang a flat screen off a wall, how
to get the cable installed (Yup, first flat screen and first cable),
and at the end, I had a pad of notes. A balloon came up, “Would you
like to order this TV with one click ordering?”
Let’s see, I couldn’t buy it from a
store, it probably wouldn’t fit in my car, and if the boss didn’t
like it, Amazon would cheerfully take it back. Are you kidding?
Turned out it was the wrong TV. But the
next one hangs on the wall as a benefit of my embracing the new
A friend who has an advertising agency
once said, “You’re not an early adopter, you’re a reluctant
But the fact is the game is changing
more and more quickly. I don’t want to be one of those guys who
say, “The older I get, the better I was.” Better to have a
What are you doing to embrace the new?