DNA: Do Not Adapt

Lance Creativity, Leadership Leave a Comment

Most organizations conduct internal communication — the very lifeblood of their organization — through email and powerpoint decks. These two media that are simply digitized facsimiles of 20th century tools: the interoffice memorandum, and the slide projector.

Meanwhile, cutting edge science is turning DNA into a data storage medium, the likes of which is the stuff of what was once pure science fiction:

Just think about it for a moment: One gram of DNA can store 700 terabytes of data. That’s 14,000 50-gigabyte Blu-ray discs… in a droplet of DNA that would fit on the tip of your pinky. To store the same kind of data on hard drives — the densest storage medium in use today — you’d need 233 3TB drives, weighing a total of 151 kilos.

Despite this mind-bending change all around us, far too many leaders and organizations are trying to navigate the dizzying light-speed pace of this Information Age with leadership models and organizational structures that were designed for the Industrial Age, which assume:

  • Information is scarce.
  • Information travels slowly.
  • Command-and-Control decision-making from the top is the key to great decisions, because that is where the most knowledge can be assembled and understood.
  • Mindless execution of tasks pursuant to a prescribed process is the key to efficiency.
  • Efficiency is the ultimate competitive advantage.

This model still works great, for Industrial Age tasks. However, in a world where nearly all employees are now “knowledge workers,” how’s that supposed to work? While the prospect of storing every piece of digital data mankind generates in single year on about 4 grams of DNA becomes reality, continue leading using methods and ways of thinking that were cutting edge when communicated through this medium:




Whatever you do, stick with what you know and don’t adapt. That projector still works, right?

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