Guy Kawasaki points to an article by Stanford psychology professor, Carol Dweck about the role of “mindset” in success (in both business and family). Dweck seems to have a lot about raising children, but Kawasaki applied it to organizations:
Here’s some food for thought: perhaps this explains the inexorable march toward mediocrity of many (temporarily) great companies. Let’s say a startup is hot. It ships something great, and it achieves success. Thus, it’s able to attract the best, brightest, and most talented. These people have been told they’re the best since childhood. Indeed, being hired by the hot company is “proof” that they are the A and A+ players; in fact, the company is so hot that it can out-recruit Google and Microsoft.
Unfortunately, they develop a fixed mindset that they’re the most talented, and they think that continued success is a right. Problems arise because pure talent only works as long as the going is easy. Furthermore, they don’t take risks because failure would harm their image of being the best, brightest, and most talented. When they do fail, they deny it or attribute it to anything but their shortcomings.
And this is the beginning of the end.
This reminds me of a post I did on the Always Done It That Way blog about the “competency trap.” And I thought I had one on this blog about “winning strategies,” but I couldn’t find it! (Am I writing too much?)