How to become obsolete

Produced by DALL-E

”If it works, it’s obsolete.” Marshall McLuhan

It won’t have escaped your attention that there have been A LOT of technological developments in the last year. Many people I meet, and the organisations they represent, are worried about becoming obsolete. They want to know what to do to prevent that eventuality. I find it’s sometimes useful to think about a problem in reverse.

How to become obsolete

If we really wanted our organisation to become obsolete, what would we do?

What follows is a checklist of sorts, for people/organisations that aren’t that bothered about being around for a long time, or being terribly successful.

Critical steps

  • Wait for it all to go away. After all, who knows if we’ll even need technology in the future?
  • Carry on doing what you’ve always done. Ensure that any new ideas are met with skepticism and a healthy dose of bureaucracy.
  • Enforce a return-to-the-office policy. If your team isn’t physically present in a conference room, is the meeting even happening?

Optional steps

  • Avoid learning new skills. Your twenty years of subject matter expertise is maturing like a fine wine. Why spoil it?
  • Underestimate younger generations. Just dismiss them as lazy and entitled. What do they know that you don’t?
  • Forget strategy. Planning for the future is overrated. As Mike Tyson says: “everyone has a plan until they’re punched in the face”.
  • Ignore customer feedback. Human needs are timeless and you know what they really want anyway.
  • Encourage sycophants. The best leaders live in a bubble where their ideas are never challenged.
  • Hoard information. Transparency and open communication might accidentally lead to innovation and problem-solving.
  • Create more admin. People love spending valuable time on admin, so add as much of it as possible to people’s workload. If they’re not busy, they might start having ideas or trying things out. That’s unhelpful.

Got any more?

What have I missed?

Composition: Phil 90%, AI 10%

How to become obsolete
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