Harbingers of Doom

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A harbinger is “anything that foreshadows a future event.” When you see or hear one, the future event won’t be far behind. Think of harbingers as early warning signs. They can alert you to impending doom in time for you to take action to prevent it. Here are some harbingers of doom.

We really don’t have any competition. That’s what the old Bell System thought. After all, they had the network.

No one will notice. Usually said when a company reduces quality to make more money. Alas, people usually do notice.

We’ll do it just this once. Usually said when someone is about to do something shady. This is a slippery slope, indeed. Remember Enron.

Nothing can go wrong. Remember Murphy’s Law: “Nothing is as easy as it looks. Everything takes longer than you expect. And if anything can go wrong it will, at the worst possible time.” My experience is that Murphy was optimistic.

Our customers won’t buy anything like that. Henry Ford II famously said that about early Japanese auto imports, describing them as “little tin sh*tboxes.”

We don’t need to invest in that new technology, we can just improve what we’ve already got. This is especially dangerous because it seems like human nature to invest in your old technology instead of adopting something new. Remember Bethlehem Steel?

This time it’s different. The laws of nature, human nature and economics don’t change. Things that “can’t go on forever” don’t.

We don’t have any choice. You always have a choice.

We don’t have to worry any more. You always have to worry. Only the paranoid survive.

Boss’s Bottom Line

When you are presented with a harbinger of doom, set about fixing the problem. There’s usually still time.

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