Conventional businesses are designed from the ground up to run gravy trains. Research and development is kept as short as possible. It’s primary intention is to quickly developing a gravy train to run.
Once a train is up and running, all new thinking stops. The default behaviour is keep things running as smoothly and consistently as possible. Occasional incremental improvements aside, changes are kept to a minimum. “All aboard…” etc.
The world however continues to change. But in it’s avoidance of change, a gravy train business is also blinkered to all change. This is exacerbated by many other factors – rear-view-mirror steering (over reliance on numbers from what has gone before), and the demands of shareholders for consistent returns.
As a gravy train gains momentum, it also gains carriages. More businesses hop on board the same model. All eager to cash in. Fast.
When you run a gravy train for long enough in a vacuum, without any awareness of the external world, a crash is inevitable. And the larger, the longer running a train, the messier the crash.
Witness the recent messy troubles of the financial crisis. Companies derail, livelihoods are tossed and splattered like ripe plums. Entire economies clearly can and do collapse when enough gravy trains derail in a short period of time.
We live in a time when even the biggest and most "secure" gravy trains – the financial industry – can go splat. Everyone is affected – like dropping cow pats into a woodchipper.
The gravy train mentality is a form of denial. It is most definitely short-sighted thinking. So many factors make it attractive of course, especially give how well it hooks into our most base psyche and desires: safety, comfort, predictability, greed, laziness.
As many others are saying, the time for reinvention has come. Although it seems that most so-called leaders are still advocating fixes using the same system that cause the problem to start with. Insanity at work.
At the end of the day, I hope who dares wins.