Takeaway – Burning platform issues arise over the horizon as threats, and yet they provide opportunity. We need to scan for problems and leverage them for company growth continuously.
What is too important to leave to chance?
A burning platform issue can be defined as a problem that is so severe that the very existence of the company may be threatened.
Everything we do in life is temporary. Today’s breakthrough achievements could be the very thing that holds us back tomorrow.
A burning platform scenario surfaces when stress is rising over maintaining the current condition. Knowledge may come to light of a threat that forces change. We see that to stay as is may be a greater threat than to risk change.
The Story of the Burning Platform
“It was fry or jump, so I jumped.” — Andy Mochan
In 1988 at about 9:30 in the evening, an explosion, and subsequent fire erupted on the Piper Alpha oil-drilling platform. This was in the North Sea, off the coast of Scotland.
Two rescuers and one hundred and sixty-six crew members lost their lives in the worst catastrophe in the history of North Sea oil exportation. Sixty-three crew members survived including Andy Mochan.
Andy was sleeping when the explosion and alarms woke him up. Injured, he made his way through the smoke and heat to the edge of the oil rig platform. The surface of the water was obscured by burning oil and smoke. Andy knew that he could only last about twenty minutes in the frigid sea water if not rescued. Andy decided to take the risk and jumped from the fifteen-story platform into the North Sea. When he was later asked how he could make himself jump from the platform, he did not hesitate to answer, “It was either jump or fry, so I jumped.”
Staying in place on the platform presented a greater risk than jumping did.
What threatens your business?
- New technology?
- Dwindling resources?
No matter what threatens our business, complacency may be the greatest threat of all!
Every product follows a maturity curve and must evolve or perish. The Sony Walkman is an excellent example of a product that stayed relevant by evolving. The first cassette Walkman went on sale in 1979. They’ve transitioned and adapted with technology. You can purchase a Walkman MP3 player today off Amazon.
Reed Hasting, had a new company called Netflix and thought Blockbuster would be interested in taking advantage of an online platform and work with Netflix in a joint venture. Hastings flew to Dallas and pitched the CEO and his team. He was laughed out of the meeting. This took place in the year 2000. Blockbuster went bankrupt in 2010 and Netflix is now worth roughly the same amount as Time Warner; over 56 billion dollars.
We need to scout the horizon constantly for threats to our business. It is important to stay up to date with technology, market trends and anything that can have an impact on our business. We want to make the most of opportunities while scanning for potential threats.
Everything has a shelf life. Burning Platform issues represent opportunities for positive change. We know we need to evolve and change is difficult to accept. Recognizing burning platform problems produce leverage that can be used for motivation. We realize that not addressing the burning platform issue will lead to adverse change. Since change is on the horizon, let’s take control of it.
Rarely does a threat overtake a business where people connected with the organization weren’t aware of the risk. We need to make certain that communication streams do not filter out valuable information. We want to encourage communication at all levels. Good relationships are vital for a healthy business. We need regular dialog with our employees, customers, and suppliers. This is our best radar for early detection of burning platform issues.
Make the Most of Burning Platform Issues
Make sure employees understand the severity of the problem and why we need to act. We need an accurate picture of our current condition as it relates to the problem. Everyone needs to have the same “ah-ha” moment of why change is needed. When we act as a team; employees, customers, and suppliers can become incredibly resourceful. We all have a stake in the success of the company.
Create your vision of the ideal state and plan for achieving it. We are creating hope and focusing effort. Business success made through these types of transformations can foster a level of confidence and comradery that will lead to future successes. We saw the potential threat and took advantage of it. We came out on top and now look for our next challenge.
What danger is your business facing? Do you know what’s on your horizon? Are your communication streams with employees, customers, and suppliers healthy and active? Emulate Sony Walkman, not Blockbuster. Your burning platform problems will provide your greatest business threats…and most significant opportunities.