Survival Is Not Enough: Zooming, Evolution, and the Future of Your Company

Survival Is Not Enough: Zooming, Evolution, and the Future of Your Company

by Seth Godin, Charles Darwin


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Survival Is Not Enough: Zooming, Evolution, and the Future of Your Company by Seth Godin, Charles Darwin

It's Come to This. All the confusion and chaos and change and turmoil in our working lives have finally tipped the balance. We now need a new way of doing business. Every generation sees a fundamental change in the way we organize to do work. From Frederick Taylor's classic Principles of Scientific Management (1914) to Henry Ford's assembly line, from The Organization Man (1956) to In Search of Excellence (1982), our businesses reflect the times in which we live. Survival is Not Enough is the next big step. Most of us view change as a threat, and survival as the goal. Yet we work too hard to consider just getting by as our primary goal. In Survival Is Not Enough, bestselling author Seth Godin provides a groundbreaking new way to organize companies to thrive during times of change. It contains a simple yet revolutionary idea: We can evolve our companies the same way nature evolves a species.

Darwin was right. Evolution is a fundamental force of nature, and Godin demonstrates how this force can be unleashed in any organization. The first step is to eliminate the anti-change reflex that's genetically coded into all of us. Once a company learns to "zoom" (embrace change without pain), it is much more likely to evolve. And a company that evolves can become ever more profitable. Whether the market is up or down, whether technology is hot or not, in all industries, from retail to tech to restaurants, the organic approach to organizations described in this book will always outperform the competition. As long as our world is unstable, evolving businesses will win.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780743225717
Publisher: Free Press
Publication date: 01/01/2002
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 6.42(w) x 9.52(h) x 0.97(d)

About the Author

Seth Godin, a renowned speaker and author, is a contributing editor to Fast Company. Unleashing the Ideavirus has been downloaded more than a million times, making it the most popular ebook ever. The Big Red Fez has been number one on the leading ebook bestseller list for more than sixteen weeks, and Permission Marketing -- one of Fortune's best business books -- spent four months on the Business Week bestseller list.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1: Change

Change is out of our control, and the way we deal with change is outmoded and ineffective Our organizations assume that we live with a different, slower time cycle.

Guillotine or Rack?

My first job was cleaning the grease off the hot-dog roaster at the Carousel Snack Bar, near my home in Buffalo. Actually, it wasn't a roaster. It was more a series of nails that rotated under a light bulb. I also had to make the coffee and scrub the place clean every night. It very quickly became obvious to me that I didn't have much of a future in food service.

I didn't have to make many decisions in my job. And the manager of the store didn't exactly look to me to initiate change. In fact, she didn't want anyone to initiate change. (My suggestion that we branch out into frozen yogurt fell on deaf ears, as did my plea that it would be a lot cheaper to boil hot dogs on demand than to keep them on the rack under the light bulb all day.)

Any change, any innovation, any risk at all would lead to some terrible outcome for her, she believed.

After I set a record by breaking three coffee carafes in one shift, my food-service career was over. I was out on the street, unemployed at the tender age of sixteen. But from that first job, I learned a lot -- and those lessons keep getting reinforced.

Just about every day, I go to a meeting where I meet my boss from the snack bar. Okay, it's not really her. But it's someone just like her: a corporate middle-person who's desperately trying to reconcile the status quo with a passionate desire to survive. My boss didn't want to jeopardize her job. She viewed every day and every interaction not as an opportunity but as a threat -- a threat not to the company but to her own well-being. If she had a mantra, it was "Don't blow it."

In her business, she faced two choices: to die by the guillotine, a horrible but quick death, or to perish slowly on the rack -- which is just as painful a way to go, if not more so, and guaranteed to leave you every bit as dead. But in her nightmares, only one of those two options loomed large -- the guillotine.

I have to admit it. I have the same dream.

Have you ever spent a night worrying about what your boss (or your stockbroker or a big customer) is going to say to you at that

"In her business, she faced two choices: to die by the guillotine, a horrible but quick death, or to perish slowly on the rack -- which is just as painful a way to go, if not more so, and guaranteed to leave you every bit as dead."

meeting the next morning? Have you ever worried about some impending moment of doom? That's fear of the guillotine.

But almost no one worries about the rack. We don't quake in our boots about a layoff that's going to happen two years from now if we don't upgrade our computer systems before our competition does. We're not afraid of stagnating and dying slowly. No, we're more afraid of sudden death, even though the guillotine is probably a far better way to die.

For a long time, I was angry with my old boss and the people like her. I was upset that they were living through so much pain. Most of all, I was frustrated that they were slowing the pace of change at their companies. Now I realize that I was wrong. It wasn't her fault. She couldn't help being frantic and stressed. She didn't want to be that way. Management made her do it. They made her do it with their policies. With their inspection systems. With the command and control mindset that prevented her from making changes she knew were right.

Nobody likes change.

Real change, earth-shattering change, stay-up-all-night-worrying change isn't fun. At most companies, it's a huge threat, an opportunity for failure, a chance to see the stock plummet, to watch divisions get axed, to hear customers scream and yell. Our companies are organized as big machines, designed to resist big change at every turn.

The problem is that today we don't have a choice. We can't leave innovation to the small guys, the startups that have nothing to lose. Either we change our businesses, or they die.

Frantic at Work?

Companies aren't organized for change. They've never needed to be. Growing and profiting from stable times was a terrific strategy.

Forced into an era of rapid change, the response of companies organized for a stable environment is to ask managers and employees to act as a buffer between the company and the changing outside world. Alas, it's not working.

Are you working longer hours than you used to? Most people do. And along with the long days, it often feels as if your day is filled with one emergency after another. We spend so much time putting out fires and nervously anticipating the next crisis that there's almost no time left to do our real jobs.

While it's easy to find the reserves to deal with a temporary crisis (in fact, you might even enjoy the adrenaline rush that comes with a deadline) we can't keep this up forever. Accountants can deal with April 15 because they know it only comes around once a year. It's a temporary emergency. Unfortunately, being frantic at work is no longer a temporary phenomenon. Change is

"We can't work more hours. We can't absorb more stress or endure more anxiety at work. We can, on the other hand, radically redefine what we do at work and create organizations that are designed to succeed regardless of what our ever-changing future produces."

now constant, and the fundamental ideas we have built our companies and our careers upon are going out of style fast. They're disappearing so fast that for the first time, you have to deal with the implications of change instead of waiting for a retirement, a promotion or a new job. The world is changing on your watch, and it's not fun.

Somewhere along the way, it was decided that it was our job to absorb the stresses that come with change. Our job to work longer hours, take more personal risks, absorb more stress. Your frustration and stress aren't atypical. They are, however, unnecessary.

We can't work more hours. We can't absorb more stress or endure more anxiety at work. We can, on the other hand, radically redefine what we do at work and create organizations that are designed to succeed regardless of what our ever-changing future produces.

Your job shouldn't be to stand between your company's old rules and the new rules of the outside world. Instead, your company needs to change from the inside out. Your company needs to learn to zoom.

A company that zooms embraces change as a competitive opportunity, not a threat. A company that zooms is responsive to new opportunities and doesn't freeze in the face of an uncertain future.

Every company zoomed when it was young. But success has spoiled most organizations, and they're now too fat, too stuck and too afraid to zoom again. If your company is under stress, it only has two choices. Either it changes or it requires people like you to absorb the stress. The first is productive, energizing and profitable. The second leads to an unhappy frenzy.

Because the chaos we're facing came to us gradually, it's easy to believe that we can gradually adapt in the way we deal with it. It's not true. The way we used to do business -- dependent on highly profitable physical goods and manageable cycles of change -- is over.

In Permission Marketing, I wrote about a major shift in the power between consumers and marketers. In the old days, marketers were in charge. They controlled how and when they communicated with consumers. We built our entire consumer culture around the idea that repeated television and print advertisements could profitably entice consumers to spend money. Businesses that invested in interrupting people became incredibly profitable. Marketers were in charge. They controlled the marketplace and consumers were sheep. Those days are over. Businesses can no longer manage consumer attention, consumer attention manages them.

In this book, I'm making a much broader argument. In the old days, companies were in charge. Good managers managed change. They controlled how and when a company would respond to the outside world. Those days are over. You can't manage change. Change manages you.

If you're unhappy, stressed, tapped out and/or losing money in our chaotic world, perhaps it's time to consider a radically different approach. It's possible to build a company that embraces change instead of fighting it. A company that attracts people who want to move fast, not slow. A company that changes faster than its environment, creating one landslide hit after another.

Businesses That Don't Change Are in Danger

Winners change; losers don't. Digital, Wang, Western Union, Compaq, Penn Central, PointCast, Infoseek -- all are on my list of losers, because all of them hesitated and lost huge opportunities. Every one of them was king of the hill until they toppled off, all the while struggling in vain to make the world stay the way it was.

Federal Express is different. Talk to David Shoenfeld, former vice-president of worldwide marketing and customer service for FedEx, and sooner or later, ZapMail comes up. About fifteen years ago, someone at FedEx got the bright idea of putting very expensive fax machines at key FedEx offices and having those offices act as middle-persons for same-day fax delivery. They put David in charge of it. A big promotion for him at the time. Alas, ZapMail was a giant failure. By the time FedEx pulled the plug on it, ZapMail had reportedly cost the company as much as $300 million.

You'd think that would have cured FedEx's management of the urge to embrace change -- that forevermore, whenever someone came up with a business-busting idea, someone else would mention ZapMail, and people would roll their eyes and walk away. You know what? The people at FedEx do exactly the opposite. They're damn proud of ZapMail, of their willingness to take risks, of the mistake that proved their willingness to change.

At the Carousel Snack Bar, I learned three lessons that are just as valid now, twenty four years later, as they were then. The first is that you should never take a job that requires you to bring your own grease rag to work. Second, jobs in which you don't initiate change are never as challenging, fun or well paid as those in which you do. And third, companies that don't change, vanish (my snack bar is now a shoe store).

It's easy to see those lessons at work on the Net, but change isn't just about the Internet. When the Internet is old news, companies will still be turning over. Remember DeSoto and Pierce-Arrow and Dusenberg and Packard and American Motors? How about Borland and Spinnaker Software and Ashton-Tate and (almost) Apple? Or A&M Records? Or Orion Pictures?

Is it possible to change too often? We all know someone like crazy Uncle Kenny, who has had forty different schemes over the last forty years. Juice bars, day trading, vitamins, carpet cleaning-Kenny is always changing. I don't think we're in any danger of becoming Uncle Kenny. There's a difference between flitting and changing, and most of us know the difference. Anyone who's been through the death of an industry knew what to do. They just weren't able to do it.

Change Is the New Normal

"Excellent firms don't believe in excellence -- only in constant improvement and constant change." That is, excellent firms of tomorrow will cherish impermanence -- and thrive on chaos.

Tom Peters, Thriving on Chaos, 1987

In the first chapter of Thriving on Chaos, Tom Peters rolled out a litany of turbulence that was hitting the world fifteen years ago. He wrote about Chrysler buying AMC, GE buying United Technologies, Hyundai's entry into the U.S.A., the influx of IPOs, the wild ride of People Express Airline, the craziness in the packaged-goods industry and the marvel of Minit-lube.

Peter Drucker and other long-term thinkers would have us believe that every generation believes that it, and only it, is undergoing massive change. After all, we survived the Industrial Revolution, two world wars, the atomic bomb and Gilligan's Island. Surely today's change is no more radical than the changes we've already worked our way through.

Computers and the networks that connect them are the reason that today's change is fundamentally different from the changes business has survived before. Change in a connected world always has more repercussions. Now, change leads to more change. Turbulence spreads. Bob Metcalfe, the inventor of Ethernet, coined a law that still stands: The power of a network increases with the square of the number of computers (or people) hooked up to it. Two people with a fax machine is interesting. Two hundred million people with e-mail changes the world.

Fifty years ago, a recession in Tangiers wasn't felt in Tampa for years (if ever). Today, it takes minutes. When Tom Peters wrote about constant change fifteen years ago, he was feeling the beginning of a computerized marketplace. But there were no networks then. No Internet. No wireless. No computerized stock trading.

Today, entropy rules. It's as much a law of the new economy as it is a law of science: Things rarely become orderly on their own. As Stephen Hawking has pointed out, while it's possible for a cup to fall off a table and break into a million pieces, it's pretty unlikely that those million pieces will ever leap back onto the table and reassemble themselves into a cup.

Systems, of course, can fight entropy. People know how to take a bunch of random springs and turn them into a watch. The sun "knows" how to take a series of random solar flares and tame them into a coherent source of heat and light. While the world we're talking about is an organic system, that doesn't keep random acts from occurring. And they're occurring as often as they used to.

Now, though, it's worse. Far worse. Because when a cup falls off that table, it affects every cup in the world. Which means that, like snow and rocks joining an avalanche, changes are happening far more often than they used to. Now we have to deal with their changes, not just our changes.

There have been four significant structural changes in business over the last twenty years. These changes mean that we're not in the same boat we were then. They mean, instead, that we're facing permanent adjustments to the status quo:

1. The speed at which we make decisions is now the factor that limits the speed of business. It's our decisions that are on the critical path for getting things done. The lead time for many of the things we need to do (from starting a company to getting a shipment of leather) has shrunk. Everything in the company waits -- not for a shipment or a process, but for a decision.

2. The Net has made information close to free and close to ubiquitous, further fueling the need for speed. And we can deliver that information digitally, which means it doesn't degrade with distance or handling.

3. A provincial worldview created islands of stability. Those islands are disappearing. There's only one market, and it's the whole world.

4. Metcalfe's law (networks get more powerful when they connect more people) has reached infinity. The invasive network of phones, faxes, e-mails and the web now connects virtually all of us.

In 1987, Tom Peters sensed an unraveling that continues to this day. Except it's getting more pronounced and there is no turning back. Change is the new normal, and organizations will either embrace this or fade away.

What Happens When the Jaguars Die?

I was reading The New York Times a few months ago and I came across an op-ed advertisement from Greenpeace. The headline read, "What happens when the jaguars die?"

Not being particularly concerned with jaguars, I turned the page and continued reading. But after a few minutes, my curiosity wouldn't let go of the question. What did happen? So I turned back and read the ad.

Jaguars, it turns out, live in Mexico. Their favorite food is rabbits. And when jaguars die (due to encroachment on their habitat by people), the rabbits multiply like, well, rabbits. And when the number of rabbits dramatically increases, the grassland turns to desert. In other words, a small change in the status of one animal (the jaguar) can lead to millions of acres becoming a desert.

The ecosystem is very responsive. Kill off one crop and entire species that depend on it become extinct -- just like the ecosystem your business operates in. A small change -- say the availability of competitive pricing data to your customer base -- can have implications for the way your company must run all of its operations in order to succeed. For example, the commercial printing business is no longer driven by local printing shops and friendly salesmen. Because a client can discover what a job ought to cost, every printer (whether online or off) must respond to a dramatically different landscape.

Unstable ecosystems are the enemy of traditional businesses, especially market leaders. Market leaders have optimized a plan for extracting the maximum value out of the ecosystem as it is today. When the ecosystem changes, not only does the company lose its ability to extract that value, but the size of the company actually begins to work against it.

So, if you are going to make bets about the future of the ecosystem in which your company finds itself, do you feel comfortable betting that the system will stay stable? In 1963, the Bucyrus-Erie Company built the largest electric stripping shovel ever built, designed to extract coal from its mine in Kansas. This device was so large (it was 160 feet tall and weighed more than 9 million pounds) that it had to be built on site and from the beginning was designed to live and die on that one patch of land.

The ecosystem for cheap coal mining in Kansas in 1963 was stable enough that Bucyrus-Erie felt it was a safe bet to invest the millions of dollars the device cost. This is the same reason it's so easy to buy an airplane from Boeing -- just about any commercial bank on earth will give you a loan, taking just the plane as collateral. The banks are confident that no one is going to invent something that makes that plane obsolete any time soon.

But how many ecosystems are as stable as coal mining or aircraft? Ten years ago, no one would have bet against NBC or Merck or Sunbeam or Mary Kay Cosmetics or Knight Ridder. Yet today, the future of all of these companies is up for grabs.

The Problem with Factories

Ever since we got serious about farming and factories, businesspeople have embraced the idea that investments in physical plant will pay off. Go to a meeting at Universal Pictures and they'll happily show you the back lot. Visit my dad's hospital crib factory and you'll see punch presses and paint lines. Harvard University has stately ivy-covered buildings. Random House is erecting a huge skyscraper in midtown Manhattan.

At the very heart of capitalism is the idea that an entrepreneur can take money from investors and spend it on infrastructure that will pay dividends for years to come. Having a bigger, better factory was always the best way to get rich.

There are two big problems with factories, though. The first is that in times of rapid change, infrastructure ceases to be an advantage and begins to be a drag. Keeping those factories busy and paying dividends often forces a company to hold back on innovation.

The second problem is that the really profitable companies no longer rely on factories. Since 1970, the average weight of a dollar's worth (inflation adjusted) of exports from the United States has dropped by 50 percent. In other words, we're shipping ideas, not stuff....

Table of Contents

Introduction: More Than Survival1
The Paul Orfalea Story: A Process, Not a Plan4
Survival Is Not Enough: The Summary6
Chapter 1Change9
Guillotine or Rack?9
Frantic at Work?11
Businesses That Don't Change Are in Danger14
Change Is the New Normal15
What Happens When the Jaguars Die?18
The Problem with Factories19
What's the Internet Got to Do with the Chaos?21
Successful Businesses Hate Change23
The Promise of Positive Feedback Loops and Runaway25
Runaway Can't Last Forever--Nothing Does27
The Best Form of Runaway Is the Least Obvious28
The Evolution Alternative29
Chapter 2What Every CEO Needs to Know About Evolution31
Competition Drives Change31
The Big Ideas32
What's a Meme?33
Memes Are Not the Same As Genes37
Periodicity in Memes38
Genes versus Memes40
Denying Evolution Doesn't Make It Go Away43
Chapter 3Fear and Zooming47
Four Reasons People Freeze in the Face of Change47
The First Barrier to Change: Committees48
The Second Barrier to Change: Critics49
Market Leaders Are Afraid of Failing52
Change Equals Death54
Why Change Management Doesn't Work56
The Way to Build an Organization That Can Embrace Change Is to Redefine Change57
Chapter 4Do You Zoom?59
Start Zooming Before the Crisis Comes63
What About the Creative Corporation?64
Zoom First and Ask Questions Later65
Comparing Zooming to Re-engineering67
Avoid the Dragon, Don't Slay It68
Which Sort of Pain Are You Going to Feel?69
Chapter 5Your Company Has mDNA71
The Vocabulary of Genes and Memes in Nature and at Work71
The Power of the Metaphor73
Why Evolution Works75
Companies Evolve77
Evolution from the Ground Up79
The Red Queen Goes to Work82
One Good Reason That CEOs Reject Evolution as an Alternative--and Why They're Wrong85
CEOs Enjoy Picking Lottery Numbers88
Evolution at Wal-Mart91
Natural Selection and Artificial Selection93
Runaway Times Ten95
Is Incremental Change Enough?97
Chapter 6Winning Strategies, Getting Unstuck and Sex101
Typing in France101
The Winning Strategy102
The Stuck Winning Strategy107
Competent People Embrace the Current Winning Strategy109
Piling On to the New Winning Strategy111
Extinction as a Way of Life112
Sexual Selection at Work113
Six Ways Companies Can Use Signaling Strategies117
Your Most Important Sex Is with Your Boss118
Embracing New mDNA120
Sex Is Important123
Artificially Selecting the mDNA in Your Company (aka Firing People)125
Choose Your Customers, Choose Your Future127
Chapter 7Serfs, Farmers, Hunters and Wizards129
The Danger of Role Models129
Amazon Tweaks and Tests While Wal-Mart Struggles130
Wizards, Hunters, Farmers and Serfs133
The Life of a Serf135
Why Do Companies Hire Serfs?136
The End of the Serf Era137
Transforming Serfs into Farmers138
Let Some of the Serfs Work Somewhere Else140
Farmers Know How to Tweak142
Amazon Knows How to Farm143
QVC Outfarms Amazon144
Think Like a Waiter145
Hunters Don't Own Land148
AOL Knows How to Hunt149
Fast Feedback Loops for Hunters150
Plenty of Companies Have No Clue How to Hunt152
Choose Your Employees, Choose Your Future153
Wizards Invent154
In Defense of Slack155
Chapter 8The Basic Building Block Is People161
It Starts and Ends with the Individual161
Changing Your Personal mDNA: Bad News from My Sister163
Find a Great Boss165
If You Want the Soup, Order the Soup166
Starting Down the Road to the Zooming Organization168
The Best Way to Stop Your Company from Zooming170
The Zooming Club171
A Quick Lesson in Avoiding the Acquisition Trap172
Chapter 9Why It Works Now: Fast Feedback and Cheap Projects175
Fast Feedback Loops175
The Power of the Obligating Question179
Linux Is Cool--But It's Not What You Think180
Technology and Fast Feedback Loops182
I'll Know It When I See It--The Power of Prototypes183
A Prototyping Pitfall185
Data Is Not Information--Keeping the Promise of IT187
Putting a Man on the Moon188
A Broken Feedback Loop190
Implementing Hotwash192
Plan for Success ... and Plan for Failure194
Chapter 10Tactics for Accelerating Evolution197
Cherish the Charrette197
Animals Evolve on a Regular Schedule198
Bring Back Model Years199
Alternate the Teams that Work on New Models200
Better Beats Perfect202
Slow Down Is Not the Opposite of Hurry Up202
What to Do If Your People Get Stuck204
One Thing Worth Stealing from the Supermarket206
The Eternal Web Page208
Everybody Brainstorms209
The Suggestion Box Is Not Dead210
Take the Dumpster Test211
Living with Broken Windows212
Let's Test It!213
Should There Be a Statute of Limitations on mDNA?215
Does Chaos Outside Mean Chaos Inside?217
Focus Is No Longer Sufficient219
Bringing It All Together: Decision Time at Environmental Defense221
The Uber Strategy?227
The Important Questions229
How do you respond to small, irrelevant changes?229
How many people have to say "yes" to a significant change?229
Do you have multiple projects in development that bet on conflicting sides of a possible outcome?230
Are you building the five elements of an evolving organization?230
Are you investing in techniques that encourage fast memetic evolution?231
What does someone need to do to get fired?231
Who are the three most powerful people standing between things that need to change and actual action by your company?232
What if you fired those people?232
What's your company's winning strategy?232
Is each manager required to have her staff spend a portion of their time on creating the future?232
Are you (personally) a serf, a farmer, a hunter or a wizard?232
What about the people you work with every day?232
If you quit your job today, could you get a decent job as a farmer or a hunter?233
If you could hire anyone in the world to help your company, who would it be?233
What's stopping you from hiring someone that good?233
If an omniscient wizard walked into your offices and described the future and told you what to do to prepare for it, would your company be able to change in responset to his vision?233
How can your company dramatically lower the cost of launching a test?233
Are there five areas in your company that would benefit from fast feedback loops?234
Are you building all your systems around testing and ignorance?234
Are you hiding from the market?234
Have you ever tried sushi?235
If you could acquire another company's mDNA, whose would you choose?235
Why don't you do that?235
Are the economies of scale really as big as you think they are?235
Is this project going to benefit from the learning it creates?235
In what markets could your marketing efforts enter runaway?236
How much time does senior management spend with unhappy customers?236
What do you do with complaint letters?236
What are you measuring?236
Are you being selfish with your personal mDNA?236
Have you institutionalized the process of sharing what you learn?237
Are you focusing too much?237
Are you the first choice among job seekers who have the mDNA you seek?238
Are you the first choice among employers that have the winning strategy you seek?238
What do you need to do to become the first choice?238
Do you zoom?238
Author's Note249


Evolution is a fact, not a theory.

As many more individuals of each species are born than can possibly survive; and as, consequently, there is a frequently recurring struggle for existence, it follows that any being, if it vary however slightly in any manner profitable to itself, under the complex and sometimes varying conditions of life, will have a better chance of surviving, and thus be naturally selected. From the strong principle of inheritance, any selected variety will tend to propagate its new and modified form.

If we look to long enough periods of time, geology plainly declares that all species have changed; and they have changed in the manner which my theory requires, for they have changed slowly and in a graduated manner.

I can see no limit to this power, in slowly and beautifully adapting each form to the most complex relations of life.

Companies that can evolve slowly and constantly will triumph.

Natural selection can act only by taking advantage of slight successive variations; she can never take a leap, but must advance by the shortest and slowest steps.

No winning strategy lasts forever.

No fixed law seems to determine the length of time during which any single species or any single genus endures.

And most companies will disappear.

More individuals are born than can possibly survive. A grain in the balance will determine which individual shall live and which shall die, -- which variety or species shall increase in number, and which shall decrease, or finally become extinct.

The good news is that you can teach old dogs new tricks.

Our oldest cultivated plants, such as wheat, still often yield new varieties; our oldest domesticated animals are still capable of rapid improvement or modification.

The bad news is that competition is cutthroat.

The struggle almost invariably will be most severe between the individuals of the same species, for they frequent the same districts, require the same food, and are exposed to the same dangers.

Companies that zoom have a competitive advantage.

The modified descendants of any one species will succeed by so much the better as they become more diversified in structure, and are thus enabled to encroach on places occupied by other beings.

Alas, there are no guarantees.

But which groups will ultimately prevail, no man can predict; for we well know that many groups, formerly most extensively developed, have now become extinct.

People have trouble embracing these facts because they're hard to see in real time.

The chief that we are always slow in admitting any great change of which we do not see the intermediate steps...The mind cannot possibly grasp the full meaning of the term of a hundred million years; it cannot add up and perceive the full effects of many slight variations, accumulated during an almost infinite number of generations.

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