Seth Godin is interested in exploring effective change, and he clearly likes it when people have the same orientation. He’s just written another post in his blog on the topic, called “Thrill seekers”. He’s mainly focusing his laser eye on people (thrill seekers vs. fear avoiders), but it got me thinking. We like to hire people in camp A – highly interested in trying new, innovative approaches to problems. There are companies that trend towards the opposite. If that’s the case, and if a company is the sum of its parts, then I think you can easily make the jump to saying that there are two types of companies out there, as well.
Thrill seeking companies tend to push the bleeding edge at times, and are the ones that produce the most astounding innovations and successes (admittedly, they also can produce some of the most astounding failures when they get too far ahead of their clients). The fear avoiders are typically large, bloated old-thinking firms that can move forward for awhile on their own weight (think of an aircraft carrier at full steam that suddenly loses its motors – it’ll go for awhile, but eventually it’s going to hit dead calm, and dead is the right word there). If you want a concrete example, look to Detroit vs. Japan – which auto industry do you think falls into the fear avoider camp? Which one’s winning?
My point is this – if you’re a fear avoider, and go for a company with the same mindset, you’re actually taking a huge risk. Do you really think your job is secure at a company that’s on its way to irrelevance? Do you honestly think that when you’re forced to look for new work due to lay-offs that you’re going to have picked up any skills that will make you marketable to a thrill seeking company?