Chapters 32 & 33
Extinction Proofing

Grand Alf suspects that the forces that drive species to extinction are common across all complex systems, and also apply to the business world. To test this theory they visit the great Natural History Museum where they meet with Dr Ramos.

They are given a tour of the Museum, stopping first at the Dinosaur halls where they observe a lifelike animatronic T-Rex and discuss the forces of nature that cause extinction. They conclude there are some valuable lessons to be learnt that apply to the business world.

Next they visit the Human being exhibit where they discover the ingredients that provide flexibility, adaptability and which are essential for success - both in living species and the complex world of organisations.

Marcus and Grand Alf followed a robot guide through the great hall of the museum. They walked under a magnificently complete skeleton of a Diplodocus, its bones blackened with age, its fleshless face a frozen grin, its tail tapering to a string of vertebrae as thin and dangerous as a whip.

Marcus spoke slowly, forming his thoughts, “The T-Rex example suggests that over specialisation and over dependency on, say, a narrow customer base, limited product lines or a rare form of raw material is a symptom of vulnerability for businesses.” Marcus paused and added, “Another warning sign is an inability to readily adapt to unexpected changes, whether for structural or cultural reasons.”
Marcus thought about some household names that had vanished in the past few years, testing the theory against real cases. The theory seemed to hold true.
“In contrast,” Marcus continued, “those businesses with different products in different markets and the capacity to switch customers, suppliers, or locations are in a stronger position.” Marcus took a breath and looked at Dr Ramos to judge his reaction.