The Dangers of Old Think and the Dangers of Thinking New

The stories on the top of Google Blog Search Business aren’t optimistic. They haven’t been for a while. Yet the predictions for social media, mobile and the growth of online advertising are huge. New jobs are being invented, described and defined, and invested in. New people are learning new skills to do them.

What happens to businesses that keep thinking “old think” when huge new opportunities are happening?

Saturday on Twitter, Dan Pancost offered these thoughts in response to my question.

@jazzlover: Those not willing to change with the times will still be hurting…. They’ll experience a lot of missed opportunities. Their businesses will probably begin a decline.

Adapting and changing to this new terrain is vital, thrilling, but not as simple as it seems.

Are You Trying to Fit Old Think into a Culture That’s New?

Past successes often inspire us to new things. It’s been said that “success breeds success.” But that isn’t always so. When we take on a new endeavor, we have to take on the new behaviors that will propel it up and forward. Yet, who hasn’t tried to use skills that made success in the past to build a future?

The old skills and perspectives don’t work when the culture and climate are new.

“Old think” businesses simply won’t prosper as much as the more flexible business thinkers and doers. Dan added later in the conversation. It would seem that most folks who read here would understand what Dan meant. I totally agree with what he said. We need to get out from under the burden of old thinking, to throw off old habits and thoughts to take on new ones.

But new thinking is dangerous too. I see signs of new thinking gone wrong every day. Here’s a few ways that thinking new can derail us just as horrendously.

  • It’s a good idea because it’s new. We act as if our fluency with the new culture ourshines our lack of experience. It’s still a new culture. We do foolish things and have unfortunate ideas.
  • Bye bathwater. Bye baby too! We turn our backs on what could still serve us well. Previous relationships and processes that have value get set aside. We take our new ideas out for a spin in our new environment, leaving safety nets and guideposts in a past life.
  • Everyone’s doing it! Our values become those of the new culture without thought. We do what everyone is doing. We accept everyone’s rules.

Whatever the economy, whether you’re solo or CEO of a huge enterprise, the challenge is continuous. How do we keep the best of what we know and throw off what is no longer true?

Old think or new think nothing beats thinking things through.

Depending on where you sit in the social business world, I’m thinking you see people in danger of old think or in danger of new think. What advice do you have to offer the thinking business folks you know?

–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz!!


  1. says


    I totally agree but how do we get people to embrace “new think”, to be willing to make that financial and time investment in something new, fast enough to be successful? This is a must in today’s economy as people transition out of sectors like finance and into healthcare for example.


  2. says

    Hi Areg!
    We can’t really change the way other people think. We can only put together the circumstances that make it more appealing for them to try new ways of seeing the world and thinking about their place in it.

    In an organization, it’s most quickly accomplished by finding the folks most likely to champion our cause and getting them involved. When others see the sucess happening, they become more likely to want to be a part of what’s happening. :)

  3. says

    Hi, Liz,

    “Old think or new think nothing beats thinking things through.”

    I absolutely love this conclusion. It’s so right on.

    Rational thinking, according to Ayn Rand, is the central tool of man’s survival. Without it we *will* perish.

    You bring a good balance to the issue. I believe the truly successful will bring a mix of old think and new think to the table and create something quite effective.

    The real issue is that during this “age of transition” there is the need for experimentation, observation, rational evaluation, adjustment and then further experimentation. To follow this cycle effectively, we must first be committed to facing reality *as it is*, not as we’d like it to be.

    This can pose a problem, because both old thinkers and new thinkers have a vested interest in their ideas. Opinions are often formed and committed to way too early. To advance we must learn to be willing to “let go” as well as “take on”. The deciding factor in this game is how willing we are to think rationally and hold to our investments loosely until we find what produces the best results.

    Easier said than done. :-)


  4. says

    Wow, Liz – what a gem you wrote: “Old think or new think nothing beats thinking things through.” What more need be said. Just carrying that thought around in my mind can create change!

  5. says

    The new tools make this an exciting day & age to live in…but some things never change. For example, treating others like we want to be treated…going the extra mile for a client…extending kindness to someone even when they’ve been unkind to you. I LOVE the new tools, I embrace Twitter and the other social media venues…but I’m the same person online as I am offline and there is really nothing new…just more ways to connect with lots of people! P.S. I will never forget the kindness you extended to me when I was a noob on Twitter. 😉

  6. says

    Hi Carole,
    We’re all noobs in this space. We’re all just barely getting there and trying to find out what things do. Anyone who thinks they know their way will soon find out that there’s hole to their left that they had no idea has been sitting there whole time. :)

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