This affliction is essentially the position of not wanting to make the effort to learn about or be part of the new digital world because you are too comfortable in your current position and feel others can do it on your behalf.
It’s a syndrome we (Thomas Power – who coined the term and myself) feel is quite prevalent in many senior executives who are probably already financial independent, have a copper bottom pension to draw on if something were to ‘happen’ to them and just need to ‘hang on’ for a few more years before being retired. All the effort of learning new things, having to actually use social media, and perhaps exposing oneself to ridicule is not worth the risk or time. However, this attitude or syndrome, is very much a risk to an organisation who need to transform into a 21st Century Enterprise and that can only by done by executives and employees who understand the new digital world, are experiencing it themselves. They can say in fact they are 21st Century Humans. In the fast paced world of consumer technology adoption, Silicon Valley business model disruption, global tech hub innovation output and the race to zero for competitive dominance from the likes of Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Google and Facebook, means there must be a sense of urgency about getting to grips with this new digital world both professional and personally. We suspect there are many digital savvy middle management or younger employees, wishing those suffering from Full Tummy Syndrome would just get out of the way and let them do what they can see needs to be done before its too late.
How do we solve it though? It was Steve Jobs who said “always be hungry” which is very much in parallel to the dangers of Full Tummy Syndrome, because essentially with such a very comfortable existence its very difficult to remain hungry. If you don’t have much money coming in – your hungry, if you are an ambitious 25 year old and have the world at your feet you are hungry for success, if you have a passion for learning you are hungry to try new things, but if you are a comfortable executive who doesn’t want to rock the boat and has either mind of full blown Full Tummy Syndrome what do you do about it?
One answer has to do with finding something that you are passionate about, which inspires you and/or perhaps something you can see that is going to have great money making potential. Getting a massive exposure to digital technology to explore where that inspiration might be, is something we do at the Leading Edge Forum Xperience Labs (Xlabs). During an Xlab, teams of senior people get practical hands experience and an immersion to a range of digital technology which helps with the “Ahha” and “light bulb” moments. Its also expertly facilitated by people who can really join the dots and help inspire people and create new innovations and help with new thinking. The other part of the Xperience Lab is a focus on digital skills which includes the assistance of a Digital Coach for a month on a one to one basis to make sure things learnt at the Xlab are driven through to real results. This is also something which can help with Full Tummy Syndrome because its one to one and can happen at am individuals own pace from wherever their starting point is.
That’s one idea, another might be to attend a really inspiring conference, enrol on a new course or set yourself a challenge to master something in the digital area, if you can find the motivation.
As we all come back from our comfortable summer breaks, think about what you can do to make sure you don’t get even get a mild case of Full Tummy Syndrome.