The first time I learned the word ” periphery ” was from an article written by Larry Huston “Mining the periphery for new products” which was one part of the reading assignments during my summer study in Aalto school of business. The purpose was to understand how people management could facilitate innovation. Here was what I learned:
We always hear one cliche: Think out of the box! But in contrary, This picture tells a manager how to really put it into action in order to facilitate innovation. I think we do not need to discuss how important innovation is for business. But how this concept could apply to our lives? And why it is important to do that?
This picture reminds a story I heard when I was small. It was an experiment: Some scientist put fogs in very cold Place, and later put them in a heating pan. The temperature of the pan went up by time. The fogs were getting so comfortable in the pan, even when the temperature went up, none of them would jump out till they dead. What if they jumped to the periphery of the pan and looked the whole situation before it was too late???
After all, they are fogs and we are HUMAN! We are farway advanced. However, Ironically we human make the same mistakes! I would refer the “Core business” part as ” core activities”when it comes to individuals. People are very easy to live for the moment if the living standard is satisfactory and seldom take the initiative to think about change. The reason is because most of us are afraid of change and the uncertain consequences it might follow. I remembered in one of the biology class back to my hight school, the teacher asked us movement and static, which was absolute and which was relative? Most the class answered movement was relative and static was absolute. But surprisingly, the teacher told us Movement was absolute and static was relative! How come we dont know the earth is moving all the time and if we talk about static, we are potentially using some objects of reference. So is our lives!
We think we are stable for the moment and life will be like this forever. This was almost the same mistake as how high school students answered the question regarding movement and static. Back to the early 90s before China enacted the policy of open up to the outside world, my parents’ generation considered working in state-own companies as ” iron bowl” that one would never loose job and able to raise his own family. So it was a very huge shock for many of that generation when they knew they would loose their jobs because of structural reform: State-own companies were privatized in order to be competitive in the marketing economy. A former product manager might make a living on the street by fixing bycicle tires if couldnt find a new job…I still remember the song the government made to encourage people to face the reality and stand up again. Very hard to find the song again since it was from 1998. If you are interested , here is one link to the song which you can listen on line. The name of the song translated in English is Mr.Wang: <老王> How many would really think one day they would loose their “iron bowl” at that time?
So for individuals, to be able to jump to the periphery means to be able to look further in one’s life, in order to keep one’s skills and knowedge update through constant learning, thus being able to minimize risks and manage changes. Keep “moving” is the only solution to keep “still”.The secret to achieve that is to constantly doing self-reflection: How I can improve and how I can be better . Sounds easy but it is actually quite hard because one needs to be honest to oneself, willing to take responsibilities and conquer any hurdles might on the way.