We have all heard about the boiling frog phenomenon – Put a frog in boiling water and it would immediately jump out. Instead keep a frog in cold water and heat the water slowly, the frog would just boil to death.
While I don’t know if this experiment was ever done or not (one guy actually tried it and uploaded a YouTube video), or whether the frogs of today are smarter than their ancestors, but the underlying phenomenon is all too common in the corporate world.
Companies fail to see the “inevitable change” in consumer behavior. They fail to notice or counter the growing might of a competitor. More often they fail to see the gradual but sure detoriation in culture, motivation of their teams. All because it happened gradually.
So I was wondering what are the ways to avoid a Boiling Frog phenomenon?
- Get a frog from outside every once in a while : No brainer right? A frog which is not in the gradually-heated-waters would know that there is something wrong. The water is already too hot and they should jump out. Why then do most companies shy away from bringing in fresh talent? Why do we feel afraid of getting people from diverse backgrounds – unrelated industries, different academic, economic and cultural backgrounds.
- Have a thermometer track the temperature : Consumer surveys, market research, risk metrics, red flags etc – we do it all , still this happens – you would say. Well, sometimes you need a frog who can read the thermometer ! Would you want the frog to see just the temperature, or would you want to show how much temperature has risen, or show that its now in the danger zone or better still sound an alarm loud enough that makes the frog jump out of water 🙂
- Let the frog see that the water is being heated : If our frog was smart and put in a transparent container, chances are it would see the flame or the burner. It might also note the rising temperature in the thermometer even if it doesn’t feel the heat yet. Will it help business leaders if they have real-time feed from the market about whats really putting them under stress.
- And if nothing works, just pull the damn thing out yourself.
Are there other ways to save the boiling frog?